Both hilarious and deeply worrying, Carcass spent most of the 80's producing medically-obsessed 'grindcore', before finally going a little bit mainstream with 'Swansong' and 'Heartworks'. 'Reek' is pure early Carcass, in that the music is a white-noise blast of guitars and surprisingly weak drums, with the two vocalists alternately growling / shouting indecipherable lyrics poached from a medical textbook. All the tracks blend into one, and it's a bit like experimental jazz music but louder. It deserves five stars for the track titles alone - I don't know what 'pyosisified' means and I'm not going to look it up, but it sounds great. This album was also available in a double-pack with 'Symphonies of Sickness', in a sleeve that featured lots and lots of chopped-up meat and grue. The inside cover showed the band as a group of t-shirt clab twenty-somethings smiling into the camera. I assume they weren't being entirely serious...
I am more than a little tired of people complaining about 'bad production' on early extreme metal records. Beside from being genre defining moments what do these records have in common: Darkthrone: A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Napalm Death: Scum and Converge: Petitioning the Empty Sky. As if you hadn't guessed, incredibly cheap punk-rock DIY production...but the music is sound. Reek of Putrefaction is exactly the same, and just as seminal. Consider the fact that this came out in 1988 when Motley Crue and Ozzy Osbourne defined 'Metal'(I use the term loosely in the case of the Crue) as far as the record industry was concerned. This production was all Carcass could manage to get! And they did damn good with it anyway. Sorry it doesn't sound like Heartwork (fantastic CD btw!) but that came out 5 years later in a much kinder environment. Anyhoo, lecture aside, this is a true death-grind monster. For a moment ignore the bizarre production and just listen, and you can hear so much going on despite the constraints of the recording. Musically, this is just as complex as their later works, and lyrically the band's bizarre (more damning listeners might want to change that to sick and warped) med-student sense of humour comes shining through. The riffs are mighty, the technicality is superb and the punk-rock Discharge style production gives an impressive bite despite what anyone else may say. This incarnation of Carcass is a totally different beast to later reiterations such as Heartwork, but this record still makes an excellent companion to the later material. You'll either love it or hate it, but the same magic that makes Heartwork so brilliant still breathes beneath it's sludgy 80s punk sound, and Reek of Putrefaction is a CD I can see taking pride of place among my other death metal records. Even if you eventually lose interest, you could do far far worse in the metal arena very easily (and with CDs that had much more money thrown at them), and I think honestly if you take the time with this CD and don't instantly dismiss it on account of it's sludge-ridden production job as many have, then it'll repay you in spades. So come on, don't waste your hard-earned readies on some brainless US flavour of the week 'alternative rock' bandwagon jumper (Creed anyone...shudder), buy this and rock like never before.
Back when they first appeared Carcass were dismissed by many as little more than a side-project of Napalm Death guitarist Bill Steer, but they would go on to become one of the most important bands within the grindcore / death metal genre’s. Listeners familiar only with the bands more commercial latter death metal output will probably be shocked at just how noisy this album is. Napalm Death makes for a good initial comparison, due to the hyper-blastbeat drumming of Ken Owen and the barely discernable guitar noise passing for songs. The guitar-solo’s barely register as individual notes at all, ripping instead through the songs like jagged shards of glass. The irony is that beneath the racket there are actually some interesting things happening here, as tracks like Pyosified, Supperation and Pungent Excruciation contain some of the most immense metal riffs ever written, but the production is so incredibly bad you’d be forgiven for missing them completely. In fact – even though this album has been recently remastered – I would go so far as to say this album has the worst production I have ever heard, but ironically this album would prove to be so influential that the ‘recorded in a toilet’ vibe would be considered as a necessary part of the genre by many later bands. Aside from the ‘music’ Carcass really made an impact with their lyrics and imagery, with the album cover being so shocking (a collage of real-life autopsy photographs) that the album artwork was subsequently banned for being obscene, and even now has only been re-released under a (removable) obscuring black card inlay. Lyrically the band also pushed at the extremities – with every song relentlessly obsessed with death, corpses and extreme suffering. While bands like Repulsion had already set the standards for this, Carcass brought a medical dictionary verbosity to their lyrics – who else would open a song with the lines “Pyosis mucolysifies malignant mucocoeles / pustules endocrinating disseminated mortified cells”? All 3 band members share the vocals fairly equally here – with Bill Steer providing the low-pitch grunting, Ken Owen even lower squelchy voices, and Jeff Walker giving high-pitch barks – all sound suitably sick, to complement the music. Make no mistake – Reek of Putrefaction could never be honestly described as a ‘good’ album – the band sound sloppy and amateurish at times, and the production is god-awful – but by producing the first ever gore-grind album Carcass unwittingly opened the floodgates for hundreds of other copycat bands, and such is the far-reaching influence of this album that it really cant be considered as anything less than a classic. Having set the template Carcass would go on themselves to master the goregrind sound with their second album Symphonies of Sickness, but if you’re willing to accept the inevitable rough edges of the bands first effort Reek of Putrefaction still has the power to crush.
Probably the greatest gore/grind album of all time and definitley the most influential for todays bands. An album that gets better with repeat listening, and despite general negativity on the production, I feel it adds to the whole Carcass experience. All in all an album you MUST own if your serious about truely EVIL music!!!
for me, i love the music, the lyrics and best of all the titles such as excreted alive, vomited anal tract, mucopurrulence excretor and malignant defecation. by the way, does anyone out there reading this know what A) a mucopurrulence excretor is and B) what malignant defecation is????? yeah like i said damn good titles!!!