CARCASS — Swansong (review)

CARCASS — Swansong album cover Album · 1996 · Death 'n' Roll Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
UMUR
"Swansong" is the 5th full-length studio album by UK death metal/heavy metal act Carcass. The album was released through Earache Records in June 1996. "Heartwork (1993)" proved to be a huge success for Carcass, who attracted the attention of major label Columbia Records. The label payed the band a recording advance of no less than $200,000, which the band used to enter the studio with producer Colin Richardson in early 1995. Carcass and Columbia Records had several clashes during the recording sessions over the direction of the material, and the label was not satisfied with the 17 tracks the band had written. Therefore the release of the album was postposed from late 1995 to June 1996 during which time Carcass were dropped by Columbia Records and subsequently returned to Earache Records. Before the release of the album, the band had split-up though, which of course makes "Swansong" a perfectly fitting title.

There has been one lineup change since the release of "Heartwork (1993)", as Swedish guitarist Michael Amott has been replaced by Carlo Regadas. Amott actually left shortly after recording his parts for "Heartwork (1993)" and was initially replaced by Mike Hickey, who himself was then replaced by Regadas. Amott soon after formed Spiritual Beggars and then Arch Enemy.

Stylistically there have been quite a few changes since "Heartwork (1993)", which should actually come as no surprise, as none of the previous Carcass albums have sounded the same either, although there has never been any doubt, that it it a Carcass release you´re listening to. "Heartwork (1993)" added a lot of melody and heavy metal elements to the band´s death metal sound, and on "Swansong" they take that approach even further. Jeff Walker´s raw snarling vocals are the most extreme feature of the music, and although the instrumental part of the music still features the occasional nod towards death metal, it´s actually best described as a hard edged heavy metal style. The tracks are generally "straight" vers/chorus structured, they feature hard rock/heavy metal rhythms and pretty basic heavy metal riffing, and loads melodic guitar solos and harmony guitar themes. The latter part of the sound is obviously influenced a great deal by artists like Thin Lizzy and Wishbone Ash.

The material on the 12 track, 50:05 minutes long album are generally well written and relatively catchy. It´s a bit one-dimensional in nature though, and a bit more variation between tracks would have been nice. Carcass have always had an understated humourous approach (even on their goregrind releases), and that approach is a bit more obvious on "Swansong" in song titles like "Keep on Rotting in the Free World" and "R**k the Vote". It never becomes silly though, so they generally tread that fine line with grace. "Swansong" features a powerful, organic, and detailed sound production, so upon conclusion it´s another quality release by Carcass. It is a step down from the preceeding two albums though, but given the extremely influential nature and great success of both of those releases, it´s not unexpected Carcass couldn´t keep up the incredible heights of their past output. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is still well deserved though.
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Vim Fuego wrote:
39 days ago
I like it more than Heartwork too. Heartwork is my least favourite Carcass album.
Tupan wrote:
39 days ago
I like this album, more than Heartwork, haha! And nice that you have noticed their humorous side, I think it's always been there too

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