The pinnacle (although that distinction may vary depending on who you talk with). This album has it all. Low tuned guitars. A grotesque vocal onslaught featuring a variety of groovy ghoulies. Expert songwriting and downright creepy riffage and pretty much everything else that a classick death metal album should have. Suffice to say that I was "not amused" by Carcass' technical advancements come album numero tres. Though I would eventually come around, this will forever be the defining moment for me when it comes to Liverpool's finest.
Necroticism - Descanting the Insalubrious (1991)
As much as it pained me at the time, this was where Carcass "matured" as a musical force. Gone are the cavernous rumblings of their previous albums as well as the smorgasbord of vocal oddities as Jeff Walker was warming up to become the primary vocalist for the band. Whatever my initial thoughts were of this album, one thing was for sure, the songwriting had went up a full ten notches!
This is where Carcass entered into the realm of and stood alongside the "prestigious". Personally, I'll always prefer the frightening atmosphere and slobbering slime of their earlier works, but, the mastery and professionalism of this album is absolutely undeniable. I mean, there are riffs on this album that not only stand with the best artists in the history of musical accomplishment, but quite frankly blow them away. Sure, this might not be on the same ghoulish level as my beloved 'Symphonies...', but this is no less astonishing to behold.
Reek of Putrefaction (1988)
This album would be higher on the list if it weren't for the absolutely shitty production. Sure, there's a certain "grimy" charm about it and it is the album that introduced me to Carcass but I can only imagine how many avenues there are hidden by the murk and lack of production values. All that aside, 'Reek...' is still a bonafide classick just for the insanity of the vocals alone!
Surgical Steel (2013)
Not that this is a bad album but Carcass can do and has done so much fucking better.
While they lean towards their more melodic selves ala 'Heartwork' there are faint traces of the more boppin' grooves of 'Swansong' found here and there. The problem with 'Surgical Steel' is that a lot of it sounds crammed together. Unlike 'Heartwork' which truly sounded "surgical", this album sounds like a victim of one of the lyrical onslaughts on 'Symphonies of Sickness' with whole sections torn into and haphazardly strewn about. Although the boys never go off the deep end into the realm of mindless technicality, much of this album lacks cohesion. It's as if they were out of it for so long that sort of lost their songwriting chops.
Really, the worst thing I can say about this is that the songs are boring. It sounds as if the participants were really not interested in recording another Carcass album and just kinda shuffled into the studio in order to pump out the obligatory last album. The fact that this album is more "rockin' than previous entries hardly bothers me if at all. I mean, hell, I was totally on board with Entombed when they released 'Hollowman' and was quite eager to see what else they had in store. No, the 'death -n- roll' aspect of this album is not what killed it for me. It's just the fact that none of the riffs have any sort of "life" to them. They're just kinda "there".