FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume Seven: Carcass – Heartwork

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume Seven: Carcass – Heartwork

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume Seven: Carcass – Heartwork

First Impressions is a series of articles that I am writing about hearing seminal rock and metal albums for the first time and providing my opinion of them along with context about my own musical habits and history. This time I will be listening to Heartwork by Carcass, the 1993 album that had artwork by H.R Geiger.

I don’t have much experience with Carcass outside of their final studio album Swansong, which most people consider to be a terrible record and a sell out. I enjoyed that album so much, and disliked Napalm Death’s Scum album so much (Despite being a huge fan of all Napalm Death since Barney joined) that the idea of trying out any other Carcass album never much occurred to me.

If I like the ‘bad’ one, then surely the ‘good’ ones will be bad, right ?

As it turns out Heartwork is not bad. Although its not really a noisey blasty grindcore album like I expected at all. It seems like everything I like about Swansong and its groove metal style but with meatier and heavier riffs. I am also reminded a lot of Arch Enemy’s better moments, which only makes sense when looking at the line-up and seeing that Michael Ammott is in the band. The Title Track ‘Heartwork’ sounds like the absolute best Arch Enemy song ever, it has all the chunky, energetic power but none of the unpleasant euro-metal scales that put me off of Arch Enemy and Nevermore. This follows a more British sound that suits my ears better.

I really like the guitar tone, you can hear the air particles being moved by the speaker so clearly. If ever a guitar tone could be described as having ‘umph’ then this would be it! But I also like when it moves from low end chugging chords to tails of high pitched notes, it has that digital sound that Dimebag Darrell of Pantera liked so much.

While I’m on the subject, the kick drum sound is excellent too. I can see why Colin Richardson became in such high demand when listening to this. I prefer the tom sound on Swansong, but otherwise this is an amazingly produced record and ahead of its time at that.

Of all the albums I’ve listened to in the First Impressions series so far, with the exclusion of the masterful Operation:Mindcrime, this is the one that I liked the most and liked the most-instantly. I can tell right away that Heartwork is a brilliant album and one that I’ll be listening to from now on.

It sounds like someone took my favorite parts of Extreme Metal, but made it as accessible as Pantera, Machine Head and Biohazard. I can hear the 1990s on the album, but it also still sounds modern. I can hear Melodeath in the album (I can imagine it influenced a lot of Melodeath) but with notes more similar to normal metal. I can hear Death Metal in the album, but only the good bits, and only as a bonus, although a large amount of the riffs could be placed over death growls and blastbeats and would sound right at home.

Some people like extremity to the point of competition, but I never have. I like parts of death metal, but only so long as it doesn’t interfere with the song being good. To that end my favourite Death metal songs are ‘Decency Defied’ by Cannibal Corpse, ‘Spheres Of Madness’ by Decapitated and ‘Disintegrate’ by Zyklon. All are savage, heavy and extreme, but all work well as songs too.

Side point… listen to ‘Blind Bleeding The Blind’ and ask yourself is it a deliberate attempt to create the extreme metal version of AC/DC’s ‘Back In Black’ ?

I can really see why this album is held in such high esteem by fans and magazines; nobody could say that ‘Arbeit Macht Fleisch’ wasn’t utterly heavy, but it is also a damn good song too. This album is so perfect sounding and instantly enjoyable that I am struggling to find anything to say about it. My only other observation is that closing track ‘Death Certificate’ has some riffs that really remind me of Cradle Of Filth.

If I could change anything, it would be the vocals. I think I would have preferred half this vocal style and half full on Death Growls, as having every single vocal the same is the literal definition of monotonous. But again, it doesn’t actually interfere with my enjoyment of the album at all, I really like this record.

I think I’ll leave this entry short, because there isn’t much more to say beyond ‘Heartwork is bloody great.’


  1. It’s such a perfect point between two different sounding albums. It has elements of Necroticism and elements of Swansong. It’s also totally bitchin’.

    Don’t get the AC/DC thing at all though. What do you mean precisely? Like on a level beyond sounding alike? Is it just one riff?


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