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Review: Carcass - Heartwork

Label: Earache Records
Year released: 1993
Duration: 41:55
Tracks: 10
Genre: Death Metal


Review online: January 12, 2010
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.44/5 (88.89%) (81 Votes)

By far the greatest melodic Death Metal album to grace this earth we walk on, and arguably one of the finest releases the Death Metal genre has seen in general. Carcass can never be accused of following suit, as you can tell flicking through their back catalogue. As much as I enjoy Symphonies of Sickness, and Necroticism I found Heartwork to be the strongest of the Carcass catalogue. When reviewing an album as magnificent as this, it really can be difficult to put into words how you feel. I mean come on, this album is pretty much responsible for the spawning of the Melodic Death Metal scene (much to the dismay of some of the old guard.) It's a rarity for a band to hit things this spot on but Carcass fly through, destroying anything in their path. Heartwork is heavy, and I mean really heavy, filthy down-tuned guitars coupled with Jeff Ward's thunderous bass and sickening scream and of course the mind-blowing drum work of Ken Owen.

Strangely enough we start with probably the weakest track on album, however this track only seems weak compared to what else is on offer. To be fair "Buried Dreams" alone slays most of the competition, ripping them limb from limb. "Carnal Forge" is where the shit gets real, featuring the music writing dream team of Bill Steer and Michael Amott. This album is riff-tastic; every song boasts amazing guitar work and some of the riffs outright destroy you. The lead work is, again, a massive high point – the stuff Bill and Michael were doing here is a league of its own, and never again would this magic be heard (Arch Enemy came close enough). The title track stands as my first introduction to Carcass, heard on the all too familiar VH1 rock show back in the day, and it kicks just as much ass as it did back then, from the melodic intro to the punishing-beyond-belief verse riff. Heartwork stands as a timeless album to me, I mean I've listened to this well over a hundred times this year and it's still just as visceral as the first time I heard it. As a musician myself this album stands as one of the most inspiring, it's rare I listen to Heartwork without picking my guitar up straight after, and obviously it's not hard to see how influential this really is. The latter half of the album is where all my personal highlights sit, from "Embodiment" onwards things get very intense. "This Mortal Coil" is my personal favorite, the main riff is beyond heavy, it probably stands as one of the heaviest riffs I've ever heard and when they launch into that Iron Maiden style harmony I get that really geeky "I'm not worthy" feeling. Another personal highlight is "Doctrinal Expletives" launching with a mammoth riff, although where this song really excels is in the guitar work, especially that riff after and during the first solo – how often do you hear stuff like that in Death Metal?

Heartwork is beyond superlatives really, an album guaranteed in my top 10 of all time. If you haven't heard this you probably don't like metal it's simple as that. This is essential for any metalhead's collection, and I mean any. If ever there was an album to get out and headbang to from start to finish this would be it, I know I've had many a sore neck due to this album. A classic of the genre if there ever was one, if you don't own this buy it – it should be the law. Absolutely essential.

More about Carcass...
Review: Despicable (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious (reviewed by Lars Christiansen)
Review: Surgical Steel (reviewed by Christopher Foley)
Review: Symphonies of Sickness (reviewed by Scott Murray)
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