Sound — 9
Never has a band changed it's image so much in under ten years. Between 1988 and 1995, Carcass have shifted through Grindcore, Deathgrind, Melodic Death, and then to Thrash Metal. There is so much captured on this greatest hits collection. From the barely audible goregrind-fests "Maggot Colony" and the appropriately titled "Genital Grinder", both lasting just over 90 seconds, to the complexity riddled "Keep On Rotting In The Free World", "R**k the Vote" and "This is Your Life", the gore hungry scousers have really seen it all on the Extreme Metal scene. But when there is much variety, there's never enough of anything. There could easily be more songs from "Reek of Putrefaction", and definitely less John Peel recording sessions for songs from "Symphonies of Sickness". But nevertheless, there are some pretty hard classics here, such as the hilarious "Exhume to Consume", the riff-tastic "Incarnate Solvent Abuse" and the song that proved Carcass were more than a one trick pony "Heartwork". The recording sessions are quite cool, with interesting alternative versions of "Crepitating Bowel Erosion", "Fermenting Innards" and "Empathological Necroticism". But the others are mainly just different sounding, and mostly worse than the original versions. But Easter Eggs nonetheless.
Lyrics — 10
I always love Carcass lyrics. "Avulsion of salted tonsils/Gavaged with a spoon/Your scrotal sac torn open/And stuffed with ano-genital grume". That's from "Crepitating Bowel Erosion" and just like all the other early Carcass songs, it's f--king disgusting. Yes, most of the words they use are far beyond anybodies vocabulary if they're not experts in pathology or biology, but you generally get the gist of what they're saying. Humour is also a big point in the lyrics. For example, in "Exhume to Consume" Bill Steer boasts how he is "Sickly obsessed with the badly decomposed". Read the lyrics and you're guaranteed a laugh. Most are just made to sicken you, like "Creptitating Bowel Erosion" which explores problems that come to light on the shitter, "Incarnate Solvent Abuse" which is a lovely warning about the side effects of glue sniffing, and "Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency" which is a hearty ballad about acne. Bill and Jeff's vocal work together is very good to say the least. Overall, the lyrics never fail to do something you your mind, whether it's scar it or fill it with funny lines you can tell your friends.
Overall Impression — 9
As rightly stated by Bill Steer himself, "Fans of "Swansong" would probably not like "Reek of Putrefaction", whereas fans of "Reek" would probably hate "Heartwork"". So at least there is something for everybody. It can't really compare to the other albums, because this is a greatest hits. It's great how they managed to revitalise "Fermenting Innards" and "Foeticide", because even though they're really good as they were, the re-recording versions sound even better. The best tracks on here have to be "Maggot Colony", "Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency", "Heartwork", "Corporal Jigsore Quandry" and "Fermenting Innards". The only drawback would have to be the misproportion of songs. Not enough early tracks and too many recording sessions. Would have been better released on two discs so they could get more in. But anyways, it's a great compilation, and it's essential for anyone who's new to Carcass and want's to find their era and also good for Carcass veterans who want to hear the John Peel recording sessions.