by Cosmo Lee

Carcass’ Heartwork turns 15 today. It and Entombed’s Wolverine Blues, which came out the same month, were the main soundtracks to my college freshman year. (Earache’s licensing deal with Columbia, which exposed Carcass, Cathedral, Entombed, Fudge Tunnel, Godflesh, and Napalm Death to much wider audiences, was directly responsible for introducing me to death metal. Before the Internet, record store distribution mattered.) I’ve listened to Heartwork only several times since. Hearing it now, I think I know why. It’s cold and massive (except for Ken Owen’s curiously wobbly drumming). The abstract lyrics ditch the ridiculous medical dictionary-isms that earlier defined the band. Heartwork isn’t very “lovable.”

Buried Dreams

Yet it remains the Carcass record with which I’m most familiar, if not most affectionate. (That would be Necroticism (Descanting the Insalubrious).) This is due to its catchiness. It’s a continuous onslaught of memorable hooks. Returning to this record after years away, I found I still knew it by heart almost entirely. And “Buried Dreams” is one of the mightiest beginnings any record has ever had. It’s safe to say that without Heartwork, many bands wouldn’t exist today. Arsis’ A Celebration of Guilt picks up where Heartwork left off. The Black Dahlia Murder would be nothing without Heartwork. Arch Enemy is sort of a watered-down version of this record; there’s a lot of Jeff Walker in Angela Gossow’s voice. And, of course, Carnal Forge, in name if not sound.

Earache recently completed its second round of reissuing Carcass’ catalogue. This time, though, there’s a legitimate excuse – Carcass’ reunion tour. Has anyone picked up these latest reissues? Are they worth it? How is the remastered sound? (This record doesn’t need remastering.) How are the the bonus materials – the Heartwork demos and the documentary DVD?