If you had asked me as late as a month ago what I thought about the prospect of a new Carcass record in 2013, I’d tell you that I’d give it a chance but would expect little to nothing out of it. Anytime a band takes that long (17 years to be exact) after calling it a day, normally the new material is a pitiful attempt of capturing their heyday but with some modern flare. It’s more often than not, it’s a situation of “too little, too late” and it’s normally even worse if the last record we were delivered was barely desirable. And yet we find ourselves on the verge of the release of their follow-up to 1996’s forgettable, Swansong in the form of Surgical Steel.

When I heard mention of new Carcass material, I was definitely skeptical like I stated earlier. My sentiments didn’t really change when I heard it would be without Mike Amott, whose work with Bill Steer was critical to the writing of both Necroticism and the highly regarded Heartwork. Amott not working on Swansong could have been a huge reason why most of those songs are as dull as they were. Then there was also the fact that producer Colin Richardson backed out two weeks into recording, my anticipation of a horrible record began to grow. Luckily the band was able to snag Andy Sneap to finish but the damage to expectations had already formed.

The release of the single Captive Bolt Pistol basically put almost all those doubts to rest. In that single we were delivered a song that could have landed somewhere between the bands two best records but with the benefit of modern production and a sense of attitude that Carcass was definitely missing. However, I still had my doubts and was predicting that this song was going to be one of a handful of rippers for the record but the majority of the record would a waste of time. What I’m happy to report is that it’s quite the opposite and instead we have a complete work of 11 songs in which you don’t want to skip a single track. Jeff Walker was stating in interviews that he and Steer wouldn’t record a single note of new material and call it Carcass if the entire work didn’t have that Carcass feeling. I doubted him but I’ll gladly eat crow on this because this record is awesome and it appears that Walker knew exactly what he was talking about. The rest of the record sounds just like single and once you get passed the melodic intro, 1985, it’s absurdly relentless from start to finish. The perfect blend of grindy madness and melodic mastery, this is the Carcass record you’ve dreamed of for the past two decades.

While I’ve always appreciated the medical themed death/grind bands like Aborted, Impaled, and Exhumed that have come from the inspiration Carcass left, the boys from Liverpool have always been kings. Now in 2013, they have come back to show us exactly that. Your journey to find the best metal record of the year ends with Surgical Steel.