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Carcass - Wake Up and Smell the Carcass
Review: Carcass founded much of what grindcore would become by managing complexity and compositional coherence through simple riffs without compromising the extremity of their art; the subtle difference lurked almost entirely in the distinctiveness of their riffs and songs because of their compositional centering in melody. This posthumous compilation of rarities shows the refinement and then decomposition of this idea, like a standard distribution plotted across time.
The first session features alternates from Swansong, which is elegant shredder heavy metal that rolls along through rock rhythms and melodic riff hooks but leaves the stark austerity of death metal behind and bogs down in predictable elements of rock. Second comes recordings from the BBC Radio One show giving us rougher versions of the Heartwork sound, which introduces heavy metal and speed metal to death/grind, resulting in an ornamental but directionless mash that loses its distinctive power. The next two sessions borrow from EPs in the midlife crisis of the band, with the first taking lighthearted tracks from Heartwork and the second borrowing from their biggest waffle, Tools of the Trade, which shows an ambivalence between gore-grind and radio speed metal and never finds a direction. The two remaining sessions are both tracks recorded for compilation CDs, beginning with the Pathological compilation which received brutally-distorted yet upbeat versions of songs from Symphonies of Sickness, the groundbreaking 1989 Carcass masterpiece, including a perhaps more melodic bass presence.
The second compilation, Grindcrusher, bore an amazing version of "Exhume to Consume" complete with neo-noise, neo-ultragrind introductory material and booming violently distorted production. Start to finish this compilation is an impressive collection of work by an impressive band, and is a good way to get early rarities from the two compilations mentioned above, but for the serious listener (not collector) it offers little quality music that the first two albums do not.