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3.52 | 30 ratings | 5 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Goregrind


1. Reek of Putrefaction (4:11)
2. Exhume to Consume (3:52)
3. Excoriating Abdominal Emanation (4:33)
4. Ruptured in Purulence (4:13)
5. Empathological Necroticism (5:47)
6. Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment (5:15)
7. Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency (3:12)
8. Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites (3:25)
9. Slash Dementia (3:24)
10. Crepitating Bowel Erosion (5:28)

Total Time: 43:25


- Jeff Walker / Bass, Vocals
- Bill Steer / Guitar, Vocals
- Ken Owen / Drums, Vocals

About this release

Release date: November 4, 1989
Label: Earache Records

1. Original vinyl cover
2. Censored meat collage cover
3. Meat collage artwork. Banned, but reinstated in 2003.
4. Replacement cover after the meat collage cover was banned.

Thanks to UMUR, diamondblack, Vim Fuego for the updates


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Carcass - Symphonies of Sickness

"Symphonies of Sickness" is the second studio album by death metal/goregrind band Carcass. On their sophomore release, Carcass expands on the occasional death metal sound that had appeared on their debut. So much so, that I would consider this half-and-half Grindcore and death metal. The songs are longer, there is more room for variation in the musicianship, and an overall improvement over their decent debut.

Something that has always bugged me, is when bands have songs that are the same name of one of their albums, but it's on a different album. So stuff like Led Zeppelin's 'Houses of the Holy' being on "Physical Graffiti" and Testament's 'The Legacy' being on "Souls of Black". This happens on this album with the opening song being titled 'Reek of Putrefaction', which shares the name of their debut. Now that I've got that out of the way, how's the song itself? The song is one of the strongest on the album, opening the album really well. It gets you ready for the sound of the album, which is recognizably pretty different from the debut. You still have the grindcore machine gun-drum work, but it's mixed with a lot more thrashing and groovy riffing, making it easier to digest. 'Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment' might very well be my favorite on the album with one hell of an addicting groove that goes into a short but effective solo.

Vocally, you still have some of the almost pig-like grunts mixed with the higher and lower growls. They are much less frequent though, which I like as I find the pig-vocals can get annoying after awhile. Lyrically, it's all remained the same, with the same disgustingly gory lyrics with vocabulary words that only someone in the medical field would know. I do find some of them a bit more clever this time around though, like in the infamous 'Exhume to Consume' which some have speculated there is a pro-Vegetarian message in there. Speaking of 'Exhume to Consume', that along with 'Excoriating Abdominal Emanation' are a couple more of my favorites, being full of easy to get into grooves and a nice balance between low and high growls. 'Empathological Necroticism' is another strong track, with some especially gritty yet groovy and punchy riffs and a strong vocal performance.

The production has improved immensely from the debut, as I can hear most of the instruments much better now. The previous muffled production is gone for the most part, while still retaining a very raw sound. It's still gritty, but the grooves are very easy to get into to my ears.

Overall, "Symphonies of Sickness" acts as a natural progression from debut to sophomore release. Adding in more grooves and solos into their deathgrind sound really heightened their sound, and this improvement would only lead to the masterpiece of death metal that is their third album. I recommend this album to any fans of gory deathgrind. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
Vim Fuego
If you were a latecomer to Carcass, and think “Heartwork” was their crowning glory, then steer well clear of this. It will rip your face off, semi–digest and regurgitate the pieces, and then reassemble them in a magnificent unrecognisable mess.

And a magnificent mess this is, on the first listen. However, you will be drawn back to this album repeatedly out of sheer morbid curiosity, similar to rubbernecking at a serious motor accident. Later listens show beneath the white noise, Carcass created some incredibly catchy riffs. The gargled vocals are sublime– instantly recognisable and incoherent at the same time. And the lyrics? They are not for the weak stomached, as the graphic and detailed descriptions of all things sick and depraved, and downright unspeakable will have you retching.

The song titles are pure gore soaked genius in themselves. “Cadaveric Incubator Of Endoparasites”, “Swarming Vulgar Mass Of Infected Virulency”, “Excoriating Abdominal Emanation”, “Exhume To Consume”… The list goes on. Most of the lyrics seem to be taken straight from the pages of Gross Anatomy 101, and paint revolting mental images in blood, bile, and any other bodily fluid you could care to name.

There were few clues from this release Carcass would eventually go down the “Heartwork”/”Swansong” path. If you think Metallica's departure from their original sound is a huge jump, listen to this alongside “Heartwork”.

The collage of real–life gore from the cover art saw Earache’s offices raided by the obscene publications department of the police, so all the better if you can find that version. Whatever the cover art, this is a symphony of sickness, pure and simple.
When Carcass started out, their hybrid grindcore meets death metal sound was quite a target for the underground British music scene. Along with Napalm Death, and with the help of the late great John Peel, they sought a lot of attention from what started out as a mainly American trend.

This album, being their second tried to adopt a more death metal sound, with longer compositions and more a bit more experimentation seemed quite interesting…but to be honest theirs just something their that still doesn’t fill the needed creative gap.

At times the songs seem too similar, the lyrics, although very interesting can overcloud the songs, having no catchy moments or anything that you would really remember.

Although I do think there is some good songs on this album, there is some not so good that I barely can remember.

Don’t worry, their next album say what they wanted to achieve with this album and took it to a new more complex and awesome level.

1. Reek Of Putrefaction – It’s odd that this is the name of their first album, yet this song doesn’t appear on it. Very Autopsy, Riffs are pounding. Interesting arrangement. 9/10

2. Exhume To Consume – Great lyrics and vocals. Cool arrangement. 8/10

3. Excoriating Abdominal Emanation – Interesting lyrics. Great arrangement and cool vocals. 9/10

4. Ruptured In Purulence - Interesting intro. Great punky feeling. 8/10

5. Empathological Necroticism - Bit too long and samey. Quite bland at times. 6/10

6. Embryonic Necropsy & Devourment – A step forward at times. Great riffs and interesting lyrics. 8/10

7. Swarming Vulgar Mass Of Infected Virulency – Great arrangement. Typical grindcore & death metal moments. 8/10

8. Cadaveric Incubator Of Endoparasites – Very frantic. Some nice moments with some cool riffs. 9/10

9. Slash Dementia – I like the blackened death moments. Interesting arrangement. One of the most interesting songs on the album. 9/10

10. Crepitating Bowel Erosion – Nice outro, but very samey. 7/10

CONCLUSION: Their worst album in my opinion, but don’t worry, things get WAAAAAY better for Carcass…
"Symphonies of Sickness" is the 2nd full-length studio album by UK goregrind/death metal act Carcass. The album was released through Earache Records in November 1989. The original version of the album features a gory meat collage cover artwork, while several of the many re-releases/reissues have featured censored cover artwork. My version is for example a gatefold vinyl version with a grey and black cover artwork. It´s only when you open the gatefold that you´ll be exposed to the repulsive meat collage. I know there are several other versions around including the CD releases from the 90es which feature a cover with drawn humans like the ones you´ll find in biology teaching materials. Just as the cover artwork for Carcass debut album "Reek of Putrefaction (1988)", which also featured a similar gory meat collage, the artwork for "Symphonies of Sickness" was banned shortly after the album was released.

The music on the album is a combination of grindcore and death metal. The muddy and primitive sound quality of the debut album has been replaced by a much clearer yet still not polished Colin Richardson sound production, which means that "Symphonies of Sickness" is actually an album that´s listenable. The vocal style is still the combination of deep growls and snarling higher pitched vocals. The musicianship has improved a great deal since the debut and while Ken Owen was never the most tight drummer around, his playing has it´s charm and he too has improved greatly since the debut. The tracks are decently composed and much longer than the short grindcore assaults of the debut album. As a result there are "only" 10 tracks on the album. The lyrics are still in the gore themed catagory with the clinical medicine/pathology touch that Carcass were known for on their early releases. There are some absolutely ridiculous (this is actually meant in a positive way) song titles on this album like "Cadaveric Incubator Of Endo Parasites", "Swarming Vulgar Mass Of Infected Virulency" and "Empathological Necroticism".

Upon conclusion "Symphonies of Sickness" is pretty much a 100% improvement over "Reek of Putrefaction (1988)", but that really wasn´t too difficult to achieve and doesn´t really say much about the quality of the material on "Symphonies of Sickness". While all tracks are somewhat entertaining and relatively well composed, I´ve always felt the album lacked power and catchy hooks. Like the case is with "Reek of Putrefaction (1988)", "Symphonies of Sickness" is a "classic" goregrind/death metal album and it has influenced legions of artists since it was released. In this case influential doesn´t necessarily mean great though. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.
Time Signature
Exhume to headbang...

Genre: death metal / grindcore

Entering into the territory of death metal, Carcass slowed down a bit on this album, whilst still retaining numerous blast beats. This actually works very well, as it allowed them to focus a bit more on riffing and song structure.

This works quite weel on a track like "Exhume to Consume" which contains several riffs and tempo changes, which also goes for "Excoriating Abdominal Emanation", which contains several really cool riffs. "Ruptured in Purulence" is one of the weaker tracks and more reminiscent of "Reek of Putrefaction" material, but it has a couple of nice evil thrashy riffs. "Empathological Necroticism" is riff- and structurewise a predecessor of the style on the "Necroticism" album, and contains some almost groovy section (it's probably my favorite of the album along with "Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment" and "Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency" which are also in the "Necroticism" style. "Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites" is more of an all-out grindcore song and, had it been produced differently, the debut album "Reek of Putrefaction" would probably have sounded like this track.

In terms of noise music and blastbeating, "Symphonies of Sickness" may be less extreme, but I think it's actually more creepy (which we metallers like) than the debut album because of the slower tempos. This is not my favorite Carcass album, but the more I listen to it, the more I appreciate it.

I think that, despite the de-grindcoring of Carcass' style, there are enough blastbeats and extremeties on the album for grindcore fans to like it, and the crossover from grindcore to death metal should also make it appeal to death metal fans.

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