Heartwork review by Carcass

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  • Released: Sep 10, 1996
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 6.7 Neat
  • Users' score: 9.3 (74 votes)
Carcass: Heartwork
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Sound — 7
On this album Carcass took a very drastic leap into melodic death metal. According to some (their grind-era fans) this was a huge mistake, which led to the band losing half of their fanbase. Others will then say that this album made Carcass more accessible and gained them a lot of new fans. I myself stand somewhere in between. Their older work ("Symphonies of Sickness", "Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious") will always be on my 'favorite albums' list. I see "Heartwork" as somewhat of an omen of Carcass' demise (which would be completed by the absymal horseshit that is "Swansong")... It was a blatant attempt at selling more records and I'm quite certain Mr. Amott (now Arch Enemy leader) had a great influence on this change in musical (\commercial) direction. On the other hand I must admit that the product of their dubious intentions is a pretty good one! I'm not even a fan of melodic death metal, in fact, this is the only album that I actually like in that genre! The very clear production makes everything (with exception of the inaudible bass) sound great! The songs themselves are cleverly written. Nothing ever gets boring, there's enough variation in riffs and leads to keep anyone at least entertained. Melody is an important aspect of the songs. Luckily it is never omnipresent like in some of the contemporary melo death. In other words, it's there, but it never sounds gay! Solos seem to play an important role on this album since they're all over it. The guitar tandem consisting of William Steer and Michael Ammot does a good job, although I think Michael should've been left out of the whole lead department. Most of his solos sound alike and in no way are they a match for the wonderful stuff Steer get's out of his fingers. On the drum side of things, I was pleasantly surprised! The cool thing about Carcass is that every album represents a stage of evolution in Ken Owens drumming and this one is definitely his peak moment. The drums sound great and Owen does a great job at playing them. He never pulls any 'crazy' stuff out of his sleeve but he does what he's supposed to do and he does it well! That's all for the positive stuff (except for Amotts 'contribution'), so now on to the flawed side of things... And flaws there are! First there's the singing, but I'll cover that in the next part of this review. The other most important flaw is the horrible presence of 'fillers' on this album. If there's one thing I hate than it's filler songs! Here we have them in the form of "Blind Bleeding the Blind", "Embodiment" and "No Love Lost". The first just sounds like a bunch of retarded start\stop riffs thrown together topped of with pointless leads. The second is kind of a slow song that never seems to go anywhere. It's filled with uninspired riffs and really lame melodies. The third is built around a silly riff and it also never reaches any form of highlight. I think that when three out of ten songs are filler material, that's a problem. The other stuff is good, but these songs really hurt the overall quality of the album, and that's a shame.

Lyrics — 6
The lyrics are okay, but certainly not as cool as on their older albums! The whole death\pathology obsession is gone and the lyrics now seem to talk about politics and certain dark feelings, mostly through the usage of metaphors. While it's (like I said) not as good as their earlier, more cynical gore stuff, it's still a lot better and more clever than most of the childish crap you'll hear in metal. The singing was a huge letdown. Jeff Walker (who also plays bass) doesn't sound as agressive on this album as on let's say "Necroticism". What he sings is all clearly understandable (who gives a f--k? ), but the 'punch' he once had seems to have disappeared... The absence of Steer's vocals was also a disappointment. His low grunts could've supplied that punch I was talking about.

Overall Impression — 7
It's obvious that when compared to the earlier albums, "Heartwork" comes out rather weak. Like I said in the beginning, it was their first venture into melodic waters and later on (around 1996) it would prove to be disasterous... All the critique this album got by the old fanbase when it was released in 1993 would eventually turn out to be quite rightly. So in the history of Carcass, this is one of their worst creations, though when given a chance to be heard outside of that context, it's actually quite allright. Pick your approach!

54 comments sorted by best / new / date

    DegaMeth
    WORST review ive ever read. One of the classic metal albums i still listen to 15 years later. Great sound, great songs, really great solos, not bad lyrical concepts. Flows as a whole. 10/10
    nedthehead
    My opinion on this is that you can't hate this album just because you like Carcass's earlier Grindcore albums. The reviewer made one key mistake, and that is taking this album out of the context of it's time. I do have a big problem with the lyrics portion of the review, because the way the reviewer described it, it is presented in a very subjective manner. Personally, I find lyrics about dark feelings and politics to be more thorough and meaningful than lyrics about desecrating human corpses. Makes me want to write a "proper" review
    asmeister
    Yes in 1993, an album like this was truly sellout material, geared for commercial successs. You fail hard, really.
    Tapping_Ninja
    vanshaya wrote: Just because he's giving his opinion and it clashes with yours, doesnt mean it's a bad review. Although I really liked the album.
    Reivews are spost to have non bias in them... He was very bias. Good Album
    TheAmenCorner89
    I think this reviewer forgets that this album was the first 'melodic death metal' sound album, and that the change in sound was not a commercial one but a foray into new waters. I agree with most of the comments in saying that the reviewer is quite elitist, especially when so many consider this to be a classic metal album
    heavyprog
    yea, this thing is a classic. It's the first melodeath record ever, has some of the catchiest and best riffs ever, and is still brutal as f***. And another thing, how do you make death metal too poppy? I still don't understand when people complain about that - it's still Death Metal!!!
    Ragnarock50cal.
    jeez dude. bold statement, bold review. expect a lot of negative comments cuz heartwork is a great album
    vash_08
    Heartwork kicks ass, Swansong kicks ass, Carcass kicks ass. 'nuff said.
    quinardov
    i think this album is genius!!!! one of my favorite albums of all time!!!!
    bootface
    To the author of the review: Your review isn't bad, it was actually fairly well written. You disagreed with some peoples opinions and they are just immature enough to give you negative feedback for it. We're all entitled to our own opinions, and while I do enjoy this album, it doesn't make your opinion any less valid. Hell, I respect you more cause you at least back up what you say with reasoning other than just shouting CLASSIC!!!!!
    Tapping_Ninja
    K!!LsWiTcH wrote: dude this isnt the first melo-death album.
    True Setence's North From Here is consider the first true Melo Death...
    asmeister wrote: Yes in 1993, an album like this was truly sellout material, geared for commercial successs. You fail hard, really.
    ... So playing Death metal with melody is selling out??? I don't think I understand the concept of selling out then...
    Lion_Slicer
    I think debating the first melo death album's identity is like arguing the first death metal album. Death? Possessed? Even Slayer? There's no real one answer, its an evolution. Carcass is definitely up there. And I love Arch Enemy too!
    bill7
    one of the worst reviews ever i think when you were born your mother was speaking out the lyrics you want about gore and stuff
    saddam
    Wow, ok, many of these comments (I'm not saying all!) really bother me. First of all, I'm not a gore-lyric lover, far from it. The cool thing about Carcass' earlier lyrics is the cynicism and dark hints of humour in them. They didn't take the gore stuff too seriously and that's what I love about them. Secondly, many of you seem to forget that between Heartwork and the grind stuff there was Necroticism. The latter is one of my all time favourites and correct me if I'm wrong, but I do believe there's a lot of melodic stuff in there as well... Necroticism to me is melodic death metal the way it should be, namely melodically intricate yet still powerful and brutal. A lot of you seem to think that the only form of melody within death metal can be the neo-classical stuff, which is omnipresent in let's say any Arch Enemy record. For me, a song like "Symposium of Sickness" is very melodic in it's own (different) way... Heartwork was indeed an evolution, and I have absolutely nothing against that. It is important though, that when a band evolves, it should be for the better... Even when placed within it's own context, In my opinion Heartwork isn't of the same overall quality as it's predecessor... That's all I did by the way, I gave you my opinion. If you don't like it, fine, but don't start bitching just because of the fact that I don't jack off to the album you consider to be a classic, it's just immature. I guess I made a mistake giving my opinion about a metal album, because I've noticed once too many that there is no room for opinion in the realm of metal... . If you want real elitism and biased opinions, browse to the metal forum of this site...
    nido
    Michael Amott wrote some of the most memorable solos in the melodc death metal genre, I strongly disagree with the reviewer calling his 'contribution' shit.Why did carcass cease to exist after he left for Arch Enemy? and why did Arch Enemy suddenly make it top the top?I think he brought the successful ideas and driving power into the bands he was active in.I strongly recommend you re-review this shit, or post clips of you playing better solos than amott thank you.
    MortalSVK
    this review sucks saddam should show at least a little respec to one of the most influentil albums of metal music...
    RMM82
    The people reviewing these albums must be on some serious crack bender. A craptastic band like Suicide Silence gets a 10, where as the almighty Carcass gets a 7, AND FOR HEARTWORK!!?? Do you know what good metal is supposed to sound like? Un-f***ing-believable! What's next, giving Killswitch Engage better reviews than Testament? Pull your head out of your asses!
    thrashnmosh782
    k well first, mike ammott was their ****ing second guitarist in necroticism, so u cant accuse him of sayin that he gave carcass the musical change. second, those songs u mentioned were great tunes. not fillers.
    akiLumpx
    I agree that no love is filler, the rest is awesome, no love is easily my least favourite.
    mergapoot
    this is a excellent album and so is swansong was the first carcass album to show any genuinely well written songs which last more than 3 mins. Its clearly far superior to the mindless blast beating bullshitery of their previous albums.
    pantallica95
    Michael did ALL of the solos. Steer did all of the riffs. They didnt change roles once. Just live they did.
    The Necrotizer
    That was a crap review, if your not a fan of melodeath you shouldn't review the ****ing album! I don't like country music, so you won't find me reviewing a country album , because obviously I won't like it! This is an amazing album and the production is fantastic for 93', You can't rate the album poorly because you prefer death metal / goregrind to melodeath.
    PabloGilberto
    boyan89 wrote: I should really check out Carcass...
    If you are going to, make sure to listen to Heartwork and decide your own opinion. +1 for reading this review, respecting the writer's crit and points, and also having my own views(different or same) and knowing when, and how, to share them.
    DegaMeth
    its actually quite depressing because i was 13 when it came out, and now there has been few albums that have surpassed it like meshuggah or opeth maybe tool. i never thought i would dislike metallica and slayer etc and still like carcass.
    vanshaya
    Just because he's giving his opinion and it clashes with yours, doesnt mean it's a bad review. Although I really liked the album.
    Nathan_393
    Awesome record, man. Not enjoying it is usually just plain elitism. Bands are allowed to evolve.
    lowtek
    Nathan_393 is exactly right, not enjoying this album is just plain elitism. you gotta be dead between the ears not to like this thing. one of my all time favorites, 10/10
    saddam
    I thought I made it rather clear that apart from the three songs that sounded like filler, I really enjoyed the album (and still do btw)... Calm down a bit...
    Slicer666
    oh hell, I personally disagree but if he wants to give it a 6.7 heck let the man. personally I didn't follow carcass from the grindcore era (I started out with heartwork and it's predecessor) and I prefer heartwork, give it a 8,9 (even heartwork's not perfect) but thats my opinion. everybody who has a problem with the 6.7, write your own damn review
    lord_abyssium
    everybody is entitled to there own opinions, and he is more than welcome to have his. the problem is most people will disagree, me included (especially embodiment, great song to play on guitar)
    WeR138
    Every Carcass album sounds differently and perfect in its own right. Where their sound really started to change was with Necrotism, which is also an amazing album. With every album came better production and better musicianship. People that say that their older albums like Reek Of Putrefaction was their best either are trying to sound cool or they can't hear for shit.
    XcarcassX
    I guess i can see people that are not into melodic death metal not liking Heratwork as much as the older stuff, but it is such an amazing album. I`m just glad i get a chance to see them after listening to them for 20 years.
    jacksonmetaller
    WHOA!!! I will be the first to say that this is NOT Carcass's best album... but it's Carcass none the less and it's an AMAZING metal album in general! This review and rating is crap