Sound on Sound Review: Carcass

Liverpudlian doom, thrash, and NWOBHM melodies

Closing the inaugural Sound on Sound as the only extreme metal band to perform – going on a half-hour after its 11:40pm slot and playing to a grounds nearly emptied by thunderstorms eight hours before – Carcass faced only a small crowd of diehards. The situation didn’t dampen the Liverpool quartet’s spirit anymore than did the rain.

Jeffrey Walker (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

The blazing death metal pioneers slowed down long enough for growler/bassist Jeffrey Walker to comment on the likelihood of remembering the audience members’ names and how the band brought the English weather with them. If he had anything to say about performing next to a cheesy stateside version of a British castle, he kept it to himself. Otherwise, the headbanging troop kept the motor running at top speed.

Unlike most extreme acts that follow their Eighties trailblazing, Carcass never ignored its trad metal roots. While providing plenty of hair-whipping moments (accented by guitarist Ben Ash’s whirling mane), the band incorporated elements of genres that came before death, injecting crunchy doom intros, madly thrashing verses, and choruses that ran NWOBHM melodies through a cheese grater. Though Ash and co-founder Bill Steer’s harmony riffs and speed-demon leads stood out, the secret weapon proved drummer Dan Wilding.

Outside of mercilessly blast beating his kit, Wilding dominates time and groove, often reverting to a powerhouse 4/4 backbeat to drive the maelstrom. With medleys cannily grafting the intro from one song onto the body of another, Carcass surveyed its entire catalog in 75 minutes, as intense with “Unfit for Human Consumption” via 2013’s Surgical Steel as on “Exhume to Consume” from 1989’s Symphonies of Sickness and the title cut to 1993’s Heartwork LP.

“You’re a fucking great crowd, you are!” declared Walker.

Thanks to a set that energized a soggy fest rather than exhausting it, the compliment was returned tenfold.

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Carcass, Sound On Sound 2016, Jeffrey Walker, Bill Steer, Dan Wilding, Ben Ash

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