CARCASS: Reek Of Putrefaction
Release year: 1988
Label: Earache Records
Trailblazing UK goregrinders Carcass had an interesting evolution during their first three albums, going from the lo-fi bass-buzz maelstrom of their debut to the at times quite intricately technical death metal of Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious. Understandably so, though: considering this was a group treading ground no one had trod before, it’s scarcely surprising that no two releases sounded the same. There was no blueprint to follow.
Reek Of Putrefaction, Carcass’ debut album, is a rotten slab of nascent death metal and crude grindcore, a lot of the time leaning definitely toward the latter. At times it reminds one slightly of early Napalm Death, albeit pushed through a meat grinder and a wobbly, deteriorated audio cassette. Especially during the grinding, blasting sections the guitars are a bleeding mess of bass-heavy chaos where you really can’t distinguish this from that. When Carcass slow it down a bit, one can actually hear what guitarist Gratuitously Brutal Asphyxiator Of Ulcerated Pyoxanthous Goitres (aka Bill Steer) is playing, even though here too the lower frequencies threaten to turn everything into a mashed pulp.
The vocals, a mixture of gruff grunting (that’s pretty low in the mix), gurgling voices and the occasional tormented shriek are a match with the music and the production. Already on this, their debut, the lyrics are trademark Carcass: full of medical terminology, underneath which there is a hefty dollop of black humour.
Reek Of Putrefaction certainly is vile and putrefied and reeking. All of these adjectives really do fit the bill, Carcass’ debut sounds like a bubbling, steaming mince of intestines, meat and bones with the odd chunky bit. However, truthfully, had Carcass not honed and evolved their sound for their second album (Symphonies Of Sickness from 1989), their status wouldn’t be based on much else than them doing this kind of stuff before anyone else. When taking Reek Of Putrefaction solely on musical value, not its pioneering status, one has to admit that there are better albums of a similar vein out there.
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