The headliner of the 2014 Decibel Magazine tour was none other than gore-obsessed British legends CARCASS. I have waited a very, very long time to witness this band in a live setting. When the band seemingly died in 1996, I was nine years old (sorry if that makes you feel ancient, folks). I hadn’t even attended my first concert yet, nor was I aware of who CARCASS were at that point. Discovering death metal and this band in particular during my teenage years was great. The gore-centric band stood out to me in their sheer brutality, as well as their use of melodies. Jeff Walker’s vocals have been a favorite of mine for years and even inspired my vocal techniques for my own music. Much like the wait from Swansong to Surgical Steel, the wait to see the death metal Brits in person paid off tenfold.
The large backdrop rose at the back of the stage in The Trocadero Theatre with the artwork from Surgical Steel. Projectors and screens were in place; one to stage left, the other to stage right. Everything went completely pitch black and soon after “1985” began to blare over the PA system. The band slowly walked out, one by one. The crowd erupted, absolutely elated once the entire band had taken the stage and sliced right into “Buried Dreams” off of Heartwork. This began what was a damn near two hour, career spanning set! Songs from all six CARCASS LPs were played that Saturday night in Philadelphia.
“Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and “Cadaver Pouch Conveyer System” were next in line before Jeff Walker first greeted the rambunctious Philly metal heads. With his trademark wit, he immediately poked fun at Philly icons such as the cheese steak and Liberty Bell. He even called us the birthplace of AIDS! If you don’t get the reference, go watch the film, Philadelphia now. The crowd had some quick laughs with Jeff, as the band went right into Heartwork’s “Carnal Forge.” Following this song was two of my absolute favorites from the Brits, “The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills” and “No Love Lost” from Surgical Steel and Heartwork, respectively.
Throughout the show, graphic images and short video clips of gore filled scenes were displayed by projectors. Upon the beginning of Reek of Putrefaction’s“Genital Grinder,” a picture of what seemed to be rotted male genitalia was projected upon the two screens onstage. Some members in the crowd (myself included) were first grossed out by it, and then had some laughs. It wouldn’t be CARCASS without something of this nature! Necroticism made an appearance next with “Corporal Jigsaw Quandary” and “The Sanguine Article.”
Again, injecting his sarcasm and wit into the night, Jeff addressed the crowd. He said they are often asked why CARCASS had been reformed. Jeff exclaimed that many bands that say what he was about to tell us are full of shit and tell every crowd the same thing. He went on to say nights like the one he was having are 100% the reason why they made their return with two new members, which he introduced immediately after. The crowd roared in agreement and they carved further into their set. Symphonies of Sickness made an appearance in the form of “Exhume to Consume” and later “Ruptured in Purulence.” Upon preparing to play “Black Star” and “Keep On Rotting in the Free World” from the selectively accepted Swansong, Jeff jokingly requested that security lock the doors to the theatre to keep everyone from leaving. Personally, I’ve always enjoyed that record. I’ve never truly understood the mixed reviews it gets among the CARCASS fan base. The British quartet completed the night, ending on the title track from Heartwork.
The band sounded absolutely incredible the entire night. The previous bands all held their own, but CARCASS truly shined. This was their night; this was their statement that they are back and more disgusting than ever. Surgical Steel has received unanimous acclaim, and rightfully so. But the true reunion of this legendary band is to be experienced live. No amount of trips through their discography will amount to what I experienced that night. The new members (guitarist Ben Ash and drummer Daniel Wilding) played as if they have been in CARCASS since the band’s inception. Jeff Walker and Bill Steer executed their creations with surgical precision and put on one of the greatest shows I’ve ever witnessed.
LIVE REVIEW BY ERIC THE BULL
LIVE PHOTOS FROM MIKE SIEVILA PHOTOGRAPHY