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!