Carcass – Symphonies of Sickness (1989)

This is one of the albums that changed my life, as far as music is concerned. By far superior to anything else the Carcass discography, Symphonies of Sickness is the ultimate expression in downtuned guitars, scatterfuck dual vocals and blasting drums. The crisp and warm guitar tone can only be described as grinding. This is the definate grindcore guitar sound; fuzzy, yet grating enough to create a suitable amount of audible chaos. Symphonies can sound a bit flat on CD, but this original Earache pressing sounds absolutely unbelievable. It holds a deep, almost fathomless sound. I dare any melo-death nerd that scorns at Carcass’ early cannon to come listen to my copy of Symphonies and disagree to it’s sheer awesomeness!

The music here has always held a very morbid vibe for me. I’ve seen it all as far as gore and splatter is concerned (thanks to the internet), but there is something downright disturbing about Carcass’ all out graphic medical dialogue. Where some lyrics verge rather obviously into the regions of bad taste comedy, some passages of nauseating atomical gore descriptions succeed in truly curdling your stomach and rumbling your bowels enough to get your colon kicking like a frightened horse. “Excoriating Abdominal Excoration”, “Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infect Virulency” and “Cadaveric Incubator of Endoparasites” are but three prime examples of this. I thought it was so cool that in high school I used to insult people by calling them Carcass song titles; “Fuck off, you absolute swarming vulgar mass of infected virulency!”

Whilst it may not share the same production efforts as later “polished turd”-era Carcass, Symphonies of Sickness holds a fantastic mix and is light years ahead of previous record Reek of Putrefaction, bridging the gap – and taking the best from – past and future efforts. The perfect balance and the perfect record! It is very hard to get such a fine balance between grind and death metal, but this here is a shining example. Whilst I do not believe that Necroticism onwards was the correct logical step for a band waist deep in filth such as Carcass, I do believe that it would have been astronomically difficult to top a record like Symphonies of Sickness if they had continued in this vein.