Carcass ”Symphonies of Sickness” (Goregrind/Death Metal) 1989 [Music/Review]


Genre: Goregrind/Death Metal
Label: Earache

Grimly I dig up the turfs
To remove the corrupted stiffs
Trying to contain my excitement
As I desecrate graveolent crypts
From ”Exhumed to Consume”

Jeff Walker, Bill Steer and Ken Owen wasn’t satisfied with their debutalbum “Reek of Putrefaction” (not to be confused with the opening track on the next album) from 1987, and soon after it’s release they went into the studio to record a demotape that got the same name as the upcoming album “Symphonies of Sickness” (you can listen to the tape further down on this page). The album was recorded and mixed at Slaughterhouse Studios in July-August 1989, and released on November 4th.

The 3-piece orchestra from Liverpool, England probably had no idea that they would make history and that hundreds if not thousands of clones would pop-up in the coming decades. Sure Autopsy and Repulsion had bloodsoaked themes before but not in the same vein. After 43 minutes and 12 seconds you had to take a shower just to get that putrid smell of your skin, and a big whisky to forget what that deranged mind had just put you through.

The original UK cassette cover.

The original “gore” cover, which was later banned and replaced by a “clean” cover, that had drawings of a human similar to those found in biology books. The exact same cover was used for “Reek of Putrefaction” except with a different color scheme. In 2002/2003 the gore covers were put back.

A limited edition (featuring the “gore” cover artwork) was once released containing 16 bonus tracks taken from the “Reek of Putrefaction” album. The total running time of this version is 76:58.

The eerie opening of the first track “Reek of Putrefaction” sets the mode before all hells breaks loose … just jawdropping. ”Exhumed to Consume” is up next with the immortal opening lines “Grimly I dig up the turfs, To remove the corrupted stiffs, Trying to contain my excitement, As I desecrate graveolent crypts”, and we are of on a FANTASTIC journey to a depraved persons mind. “Symphonies of Sickness” couldn’t be a more appropiate title for this work of filth. We then get a couple of mid-tempo pieces in the middle before finishing off with some filthy brutal stuff. It just have to be experienced.

Stand-out tracks for me are “Exhume To Consume”, “Embryonic Necropsy And Devourment” and “Reek Of Putrefaction”.


Carcass second demo tape. All 5 tracks appear on the studio album, Symphonies of Sickness. It was alsoo released on the Dual disc Digipak re-release of “Symphonies of Sickness” in 2008.

This recording ”Live At St. George´s Hall, Bradford, UK November 15th 1989” was recorded during the ”Symphonies of Sickness” tour and was officially released as a EP, but there is also a German and a Mexican full-length bootleg release of it.

Live in Ludwigsburg, Germany 24/06/1990 (Symphonies of Blue Blood tour)

01:Genital Grinder
02:Exhume to Consume
03:Reek of Putrefaction
04:Ruptured in Purulence
05:Empathological Necroticism
06:Embryonic Necropsy and Devourment
07:Fermenting Innards
08:Excoriating Abdominal Emanation
09:Swarming Vulgar Mass of Infected Virulency
11:Crepitating Bowel Erosion
12:Slash Dementia

Ken Owen: Drums
Bill Steer: Guitar/Vocals
Jeff Walker: Bass/Vocals
Mike Amott: Guitar

… and last but not least, the amazing album!

In the wake of ”Symphonies of Sickness”, there came hundreds if not thousands of bands playing so-called goregrind. Out of these bands, finnish Xysma and their demotape ”Swarming of Maggots” was probably the first one. The band completely changed style in the early 90’s to some kind of heavy rock thing.

I haven’t listen to a million of these bands, but
down below is my top 3 records of Carcass clones.