Concert Review: Carcass, April 16, Phoenix Concert Theatre


There’s a scene in Sam Dunn’s documentary Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey wherein Dunn tells the story of himself and some high school friends sitting around and trying to come up with the most extreme death metal lyrics they can. It’s a great scene and one that likely rings true for a lot of metalheads.

I can certainly recall my circle of metalhead friends doing the same back in high school as we made up lyrics for a steady stream of not entirely real bands. In large part those lyrics were inspired by the works of Liverpool’s Carcass, whose early work especially focused on gore with a particular penchant for using the elevated language of medical textbooks. This set them apart and gave their songs a slightly more sophisticated air when compared to the more straightforward bluntness of many of their peers’ lyrics, and helped to solidify their status as true originals in the metal world. The band’s influence on the genres of death metal and grindcore, both lyrically and musically, is indisputable, even if our own attempts to mimic the band’s particular lyrical style back in the day mostly resulted in semi-nonsensical word salads.

Touring behind their latest, 2021’s Torn Arteries, Carcass made their way to The Phoenix to play a career-spanning set to a packed house on Sunday night. Well, not entirely career-spanning – they neglected to include anything off their debut Reek of Putrefaction, though to be fair, that one’s a bit of an outlier in their discography with its more straight up grindcore sound. I doubt anyone minded its omission too much though, as the band’s setlist for this tour, full of classics like “Buried Dreams,” “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and “Heartwork”, is a hard one to argue with.

The one quibble I might have with their set is the band’s reliance of working snippets of some of their tracks into the intro or outro to other songs, but I guess it gives them a chance to slip at least some part of these songs into a medley when they otherwise might have been cut altogether, so I guess I’ll allow it.

Despite vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker’s description of himself and his bandmates as the old guys just trying to keep up with the younger acts on the bill with them, Carcass proved on this occasion that there’s a reason why they’re still regarded as one of the greats of extreme metal.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts