Carcass have long been one of my favourite bands, and despite catching them live at Bloodstock a few years ago, I never thought I'd see the day they'd release new material (guitarist Bill Steer said around that time he thought it highly unlikely). So, enter "Surgical Steel", and how does it fare?
Well, after initial expectations wear off, you come to realize that, in essence, this is the next logical step up from "Heartwork". It brushes off pretty much everything from "Swansong" and hits you with a hammer blow full of Bill's crushing riffs, melodious solos, rampant drum battery, and of course, the snarling sneer of bassist Jeff Walker. Opening with the heaviest tune on the album (after the harmony-drenched intro), the band go full speed ahead, ripping your face off with monster tunes boiling with bile and venom. Sure, the production is a little polished, but hey, it's the era of pro-tools; what do you expect?
The material is of an exceptionally high standard, and there is more variation than there was on "Heartwork", with some songs going for the throat, others slowing things down and giving the instruments room to breathe. It's sterile in the best sense possible, and the highlight for me is without a doubt "The Granulating Dark Satanic Mills". It's as awesome as the title suggests, and it boasts the best riff on the album, a total Maiden-on-steroids moment that recalls the brilliance that was "This Mortal Coil".
Fans of the band won't be disappointed, and while it isn't quite as essential as "Heartwork", and it bares no resemblance to the aural pathology report that was "Necroticism", "Surgical Steel" is a fine return to form that all fans of melodic death metal should not miss. Welcome back, guys.