Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.
This is an Album That is Very Different from Other Albums Released by Carcass
British death metal band Carcass has made a name for themselves in the sub-genre of grindcore death metal before putting more melodic elements in their albums later. Their 1988 debut album Reek of Putrefaction is an example of an album that has very messy production, heavy, drawn out vocals that are hard to understand and songs that are generally very short in length. This short song quality is also present in other albums of this time period such as Napalm Death’s album Scum. Reek of Putrefaction is absolutely nothing like the 1993 album Heartwork, the album that most fans of Carcass are familiar with. If you are not used to listening to death metal, Reek of Putrefaction is not an album that I would recommend. This album is going to be good to listen to for those that have been listening to death metal for a long time.
What Type of Album is Reek of Putrefaction?
Reek of Putrefaction begins with the heavy instrumental song called “Genital Grinder” before taking the heaviness to such a level that even Cannibal Corpse would be both impressed and surprised. Jeff Walker’s vocals are so muffled that they sound like a dog. Since this is the first album by Carcass you could make the case that they were newcomers to the death metal scene and they were just dipping their feet into the waters of the death metal genre. This debut is full of riffs that just grind along heavily along with the gory, descriptive lyrics. That’s why this first album is considered as grindgore death metal. Actually, grindgore and grindcore could be used interchangeably so whichever one that you use to describe this album is fine.
At one point during this album, it literally sounds like a dog is barking and this quality will turn off some metal fans but hardcore death metal fans will find it just a minor annoyance maybe. The lyrics in this album are also a direct departure from the political and social issues covered in other albums such as Heartwork.
Normally an album with vocals this bad would be considered a failure but Carcass still manages to create a decent death metal debut and I was thinking to myself that only a band such as Carcass can create an album this extreme and still make it good. This band from Liverpool, England came onto the scene after several other bands from this island nation had already established themselves and they made the scene better. For the time in which it was released, Reek of Putrefaction provided a sort of death metal brutality that was more than likely unknown in the UK at that time. Reek of Putrefaction has the rough, brutal vocals of Jeff Walker, the grinding guitar riffs from Bill Steer and the intense double bass drumming from Ken Owen. Reek of Putrefaction reeks of brutal death metal that works out well for a debut album.
Final Thoughts About Reek of Putrefaction
The only other United Kingdom based metal band that was famous enough to be making its mark on the scene in terms of this style of death metal is Napalm Death. Napalm Death and Carcass are basically the two signature death metal bands from the UK that were formed during the 1980s and worked on that short, brutal grindgore style. The one key aspect that Carcass does not use though is that they do not use any punk style riffs in this album. Think of Reek of Putrefaction as an album showing that these guys just wanted to get their feet wet and test the waters as the phrase goes. This can be looked at as a sort of dry run for what was to come later. This album while long and short at the same time ends with the bass dominated song called “Malignant Defecation” which starts with Jeff Walker showing us that he can indeed play bass and make it sound good before the song gets into the usual grinding fashion of this album.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Ara Vahanian