Taking its name from the 1974 Spanish-Italian answer to the seminal ‘Night of the Living Dead,’ the riff salad of “The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue,” which kicks off Carcass’ ‘Despicable’ EP, comes on like a pack of brain thirsty zombies. The harmonized slow guitars of the intro creep steadily towards a string of riffs that gallop more than they grind. Bill Steer manages to throw in a bit of shred before saturating the super groovy breakdown of the bridge with some tasty slow-hand melodic leads. The band then manages to inject some subtle atmospherics before returning to the savory guts of the tune. The unfussy guitar-heavy production giving this and the other tunes in the set a raw edge that suits the songs.
“The Long and Winding Bier Road” with its driving rhythm and reverence for the power of the almighty riff is a standout. Carcass’ inclination for clever puns remains unrivaled on a song title that references both the Beatles and the “haunted” Medieval “corpse roads” that were used to conveniently transport bodies from place to place. Featuring a series of slithering earworm lead guitar figures entwined with the pummeling chug of the verses and choruses, the song shoots for something resembling classic metal and lands admirably. Jeff Walker’s inimitable rasp, which channels a melodic instrument throughout, cements the song as the catchiest and most economical of the set.
The initial taste of new music from the record, “Under the Scalpel Blade,” released as a Decibel Flexi single prior to the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on just about everything, marries stuttering start-stop and angular doom riffage to driving rock choruses. Like most songs on the record, the band finds time for fast tempo grind but does so in small calculated bursts that serve the song. At the three-quarter mark, Steer pulls off another epically awesome, melodic guitar solo over a mid-tempo beat before Walker and drummer Daniel Wilding steer the ship into aggressive double-kick laden waters.
“Slaughtered in Soho,” another highlight, expertly glues melodic angular guitar figures and shout-along choruses to twisting cowbell laden grooves. The band sounds like they’re having a blast as they launch into the emotive “rock n’ roll” lead guitar break of the bridge. The guitar melody that drives the song might be the most hummable sounding thing that Carcass has ever set to tape.
Provided this is not a straight “odds and sods” collection whose ideas do not persist to the upcoming full-length, the high quality of the tracks on this EP raise all expectations for the forthcoming LP.
Saving the “prime cuts” for their delayed full-length record, Carcass’ ‘Despicable’ EP is an extremely delectable appetizer consisting of edible offal left on the killing room floor. Designed to whet our appetites for the main course, the EP turns out to be a meal of its own and should adequately fill the belly of even the most discerning diner.