Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: Carcass - Heartwork

Band: Carcass
Album: Heartwork
Year: 1993
Country: United Kingdom
Genre: Melodic Death Metal

Carcass started out as more of a grind band, and in fact are considered the founders of the goregrind genre. After their first two releases they moved on to what would be considered straight up death metal. Heartwork continues that progression further into a more melodic, simplified form of music. In fact this album itself is generally thought of as one of the first melodic death metal releases, and a classic of both death metal and melodic death metal.

Before I get to the band members themselves special mention needs to be made of the production. Firstly Heartwork has a very clean modern sound to it. So much so that even nearly 20 years later it sounds just as good as anything that is being released today. Having watched the documentary on the making of the album by the band you could tell much attention was paid to the guitar sound. It is one of the heaviest guitar tones I have heard and their hard work really paid off.

So it is mentioned in interviews that while writing the music for Heartwork the band had been listening to a lot of Iron Maiden. And it shows with their more prominent use of harmonized leads. Not to mention the solos seem to be even more influenced by that style than in their early days, probably due to Michael Amott's writing style. The songs run the gamut here, you have the more death'n'roll No Love Lost, the fast paced Heartwork, and everything in between.

I know people often like to claim that Ken Owen was a sloppy drummer, especially on Carcass' earlier efforts but he really pulls it together for a top notch performance here. I mean this is some of the tightest most on the spot drumming jobs in the business. While the blasts take a back seat they are still present just in places where they are more beneficial to the music rather than each song being chock full of them.

Jeff Walker does as good a job as ever with his vocals on Heartwork. The band may have spawned hundreds of clones and the same can be said for those who try to emulate Walker's high pitched rasp. Its interesting that while Bill Steer's deeper growls are non-existent on Heartwork I think it works to the albums advantage. It's kind of hard to imagine that style of vocals being used here and with this music, it just doesn't seem to fit. As for Walker's bass playing, well it's there and follows the guitars to a tee. Nothing real interesting but his vocals will always overshadow his bass skills.

Heartwork is easily one of my favorite Carcass/death metal/melodeath albums. Every song is strong and contains equal amounts of sweet melody and crushing aggression. Whether you like Heartwork or not, it's hard to deny the impact it has had one the genre. I for one believe that this is one of the defining albums of both death metal and melodic death metal.

Score: 9.5
Standout Tracks: No Love Lost, Heartwork, This Mortal Coil, Buried Dreams

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