Despicable EP

Due to the stupid pandemic Carcass decided to hold off on releasing their follow-up to their excellent 2013 reunion album – Surgical Steel, until 2021.  Smart decision, since pretty much any albums released in 2020 are dead in the water due to no live shows/touring and 2021, at least in Europe, looks to start resuming some tours/live shows.  The only new band member addition since the last album is Tom “Little Jackey” Draper on guitars.  After Surgical Steel, the following year, Carcass released Surgical Remission / Surplus Steel ep which was really a let-down, with the songs having a strong Swansong feel, and was more of the death n roll style. Last year Carcass released the single for “Under the Scalpel Blade”, which I believe is the name of the next Carcass album.  So that is included on this, along with three other songs and this is supposed to momentarily quench the ever-increasing Carcass fanbase.  4 songs in 18 ½ minutes and there is some definite awesome moments on this album precursor, but also some uhhh ohh Swansong death n roll moments.

Since there are only 4 songs I might as well hit on each one of the songs and then you can be the judge if this ep demands your attention.  I preface this by saying I am a long time Carcass fan since 1989 and while I loathed Swansong, when it was released, over the years I have come to greatly appreciate it as a very good heavy metal album.  However, it should have been released under a different name, since the band abandoned their death/grind sound 110%.

Starting with the longest song on the ep, “The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue”, at over 6 minutes, starts with some melodic Carcass guitar noodling and very cool drum patterns over the melodic guitar and then right into the excellent guitar riff with Jeff’s raspy signature vocals coming in.  The song starts slow and then picks up pace with Dan Wilding lighting a fire and then ripping into a killer blast beat with Bill and Tom’s melodic riffing over the blast.  It’s very catchy and the guitar tone is sharp and excellent.  The song slows down with some melodic soloing and awesome double bass drums.  The blast section with the swirling melodic riffing returns.  A damn good ep opener and definitely needs to be in their future live sets.  I also can tell Bill Steer’s deeper register grunts, while Jeff, is still doing all the vocals himself, Steer had some backing grunts on Surgical Steel – but unfortunately the mix buried them – on this song, they are higher in the mix.  Therefore pretty killer.

“The Long and Winding Bier Road” is up next and it’s death n roll.  Slow….. think Heartwork’s sound mixed with Swansong moments.  Steer let’s out some backing lower grunts and there is melodic soloing going on.  But because of the Heartwork sound, it is heavier than what would appear on Swansong – but it’s a pretty melodic slow song.  It’s mediocre at best.

“Under the Scalpel Blade” is next and killer.  I heard it last year, but spent a lot more time listening to it this time around.  Starting with a swirling blast beat, which is super catchy, and then getting into a monster groove with a killer riff.  Heavy and then some riffing bringing to mind the awesome Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious album, then right into the excellent blast beat, then back into that beat down riff moment.  Some excellent double bass action and a killer scream from Jeff, then back into the blast beat, alternating with the slower riff-heavy part.  Excellent song – another winner for their live set.  “Slaughtered in Soho” is up next and like the second song, is more of a mix of the Swansong style.  Melodic, slow, but featuring some Bill Steer backing grunts, which is definitely another plus, but the song is just ok, more traditional heavy metal moments and extremely melodic.

The Despicable ep is certainly light years better than the Surgical Remission / Surplus Steel ep of 6 years ago.  The faster and heavier moments are back and while the slower songs harken more toward the Swansong era, they at least retain the heavier/melodic edge from Heartwork.  With nods to Necroticism – Descanting the Insalubrious, Heartwork, Swansong and Surgical Steel this is a mish mash of these Carcass eras.  Do not expect any Symphonies of Sickness (my personal fave) or Reek of Putrefaction moments.

This ep is the most melodic of any of their prior releases, but the 2 standout tracks are the first and third, which bring in the furious Carcass blasting and are enough to wet your whistle if the next Carcass album has more of these type of songs, rather than the second and fourth songs.  If there are more of those fair to middling type of songs then for me, the album will be a disappointment.  The musicianship is top notch and the production is outstanding.  This is a riff-heavy ep, therefore the guitars sound stunning and the drums are chest collapsing.  Overall a decent ep with some excellent moments and some fairly average moments.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
October 30th, 2020


  1. Commented by: Don

    the next Carcass album is entitled Torn Arteries …not under the scalpel blade !

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