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Classic Review: Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness
Symphonies of Sickness

Label: Earache Records
Year released: 1989
Duration: 43:10
Tracks: 10
Genre: Grindcore

Rating: 5/5

Review online: September 23, 2003
Reviewed by: Scott Murray
Readers Rating
Symphonies of Sickness

Rated 4.4/5 (88%) (45 Votes)

Ahhh Carcass. When it comes to dirty, disgusting, brutal grind there is none better than this legendary band when it comes to the first three albums. Sure Heartwork broke this band in, but it's a shame that this is regarded as the band's highpoint despite not representing musically anything to do with the band's magnificent beginnings. And Swansong? Sometimes I hate it, sometimes I like the putrid rock n' roll parody of it, but really this was a bad note to see the band go out on.

But this is about the Carcass I know and worship, the ones that still kept its songs to the point, less, shoddy production that merely adds to the odorous and vile filth within, and NO MICHAEL AMOTT. This is just a straight-up massacre of all pre-conceived notions of what extreme metal at the time was all about. While Morbid Angel's debut was unleashed the same year, the equally influential Symphonies of Sickness carried on where the even grittier sounding Reek of Putrefaction left-off, but added keener detail to mixing up the standard formula a bit, adding more space for leads and solos, slower grinds and longer track lengths, but still remained undeniably Carcass, who along with Napalm Death (equally vital to the grind movement, with former member Bill Steer spawning Carcass from the pioneer's legacy) revolutionized underground metal and still influence countless newer acts carrying on the bloody legacy.

It helps having band members as fucking amazing as this terror-loving trio: super tight, blistering blastbeats along with some diverse fills carrying out the slower passages care of Ken Owen, the unforgettable crunchy sludge riffs of death genius Bill Steer, and thick as an sumocorpse bass lines a la Jeff Walker. And of course, the three-pronged vokill assault spewing forth sadistic surgical fantasies and medical jargon enhances the chaos thrice-fold. It just doesn't get any better than Symphonies…, by far my favourite Carcass release and a fine example of what perfection in its most horrifying form sounds like.

Nowadays there's a bunch of great bands falling under the worship category, the more popular being Exhumed, Aborted and Impaled, all worthy heirs and do a bang up job of emulating Carcass in its finest stages.

Symphonies of Sickness was reissued in the mid 90's with some sissy censored cover art, but recently was again unleashed with the original cover. The version I have is from 1989 and has 16 tracks from Reek of Putrefaction as a bonus.

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