CARCASS interview. New album, ‘Torn Arteries’, out on September 17th.

I had a great chat with Daniel Wilding from CARCASS about recording the upcoming ‘Torn Arteries’ album, albeit slowly, and we also discussed how the band was banned from 2 countries whilst on tour there. Find out about the fascinating album cover and how the band writes and records.

MAL-
Good to have you on.
DANIEL-
Thank you very much for having me, man. Pleasure.
MAL-
It's yeah, it's good. 8 years between albums. That's a long time.
DANIEL-
It is a long time.
MAL-
What's been going on? Has life got in the way? Have other projects got in the way? Has family, I won't say family getting in the way, I'll say family coming first.
DANIEL-
No, it's kind of a product of the way the band writes. (MAL- Slowly) I've talked about this this morning quite a bit with other people. It's very kind of old-school, you know, bands these days generally tend to record demos on a computer with programmed drums, and everything is done in a computer and everybody learns the song or arranges the song inside a computer, which is cool because you know, you can do that while you're on tour, you can do that from anywhere in the world. Whereas Bill and Jeff are very old-school and the only way they write is in a room with the three of us jamming stuff out and kind of jigsawing it together in the room. And you know, that's amazing because I think it brings out something that's a little bit more organic and a bit natural, but it takes so much more time because you have to actually physically get in a room together and, you know, some days you create gold and then the other days nothing comes out, its kind of so..
MAL-
And getting together in the same room as a bit harder these days. In the last couple of these days. Excellent. So you can use that as an excuse for like a year and a half but the other five and a half...anyway.
DANIEL-
Well, unfortunately we've recorded the album before any of this started, so we can't use that excuse.
MAL-
You've got an album title that I would expect to hear from CARCASS, but you haven't got an album cover that I was expecting from CARCASS something very, very different than what I was expecting. So tell us, tell us about that.
DANIEL-
Yeah, it's Unique for sure, isn't it? Well, Jeff's, domain is visuals and artwork. He's been in charge of, as far as I'm aware, every piece of artwork since that the band began. I mean, he came up with the logo and everything. So yeah, it was, it was an idea he had that is a mixture between..there's a Japanese form of art that kind of depicts rot and decay and stuff. There's also this other type of art, I don't know where it's from, where they make, it's like sculptures. They make body parts out of fruits and vegetables and he kind of told us this idea of mixing the two things and me and Bill were a bit like, 'Ooookay. Let's see how that works out'. Oh, yeah, and he sent the idea to this guy in Poland who has wanted to work with the band for a while and we didn't hear anything for ages and then he sent back these images and all of us were a bit like. 'Wow, that's that was more impressive than we were expecting' and yet, it's been quite polarizing for I guess for obvious reason. It's not the most typical album cover that you'd expect from a metal band. But I think that was Jeff's idea was to do something a bit different, do something a bit striking, do something that you don't see every day. So I love it. I mean, it took me a minute, but I love it now.
MAL-
Took me a minute too. Yes, you do not see that everyday. So let's run through some of the stuff on the album. I've only got the chance to listen to it once because I came across this very late in the game. So I only heard this once. So, tell us about it.
DANIEL-
Well, I guess the easiest thing to compare it to would be 'Surgical Steel', the last one we did. I'd say not that 'Surgical Steel' all sounds the same, but there's definitely a more common vibe throughout that album. I think this one definitely has a lot more kind of ups and downs as that there's basically stuff that you'd find on all the other albums of CARCASS kind of all put together. There's groovier stuff, there's kind of, there's fast blasty stuff. There's stuff in the middle. There's a whole bunch of stuff that the band's never done before. So it's kind of a little bit all over the place. There's not really one sound that it kind of follows, but I think it kind of sums up everything the band is capable of doing in a few ways. I think, I think that's a good way of describing it. I mean, does that sound right from what you've heard?
MAL-
That sounds fine, yeah, I'm happy with that under. All produced like you said, in the one room, eye contact, cranked? Yeah.
DANIEL-
Absolutely. Yeah, 100%.
MAL-
How long did it take to put together once you got together like that was it done, you know, 'Get the guys together and then sort of thrashed out?'. Or was it a bit here, bit there?
DANIEL-
Yeah, it was and again, that was another reason it took so long, because we basically just didn't stop touring because, you know, touring is where all musicians make their money now, so to be able to be here to keep making money, we had to kind of keep touring and also we love touring, touring is kind of the main reason we keep doing that I think, we all love it so much. So so we basically we would do it in chunks. So we do, you know a few days here and then we'd have to go away again for, you know, to tour for a couple of weeks and then we come home and then we do a little bit more and then we'd be away for a month and then we'd come home. So it was all very kind of split up and little chunks here and there. And again, that's what made it take so long because I think because we kept going away from it, we'd come back and then we'd be like, 'it's not as good as I remember'. So, it was almost a bad thing that we kept going away and coming back because we kept coming with fresh ears and being like, 'No, that sucks. Let's do it again'. And also, we didn't have a time limit, which, you know, we're lucky that the label didn't say. 'Oh, you have to have an album by this date' which is sometimes the case so we had absolutely no limit. So that also made it take longer because we were like, 'Oh we haven't gotten a time limit. So we can we can keep rewriting it and rewriting it and rewriting it'.
MAL-
Keep hitting the snooze button on the album.
DANIEL-
Exactly, and we kind of got to a point where we were just like, you know, this is a bit ridiculous. Now, we basically we booked studio time. And we said it has to be ready by this time. Otherwise, it's never going to be ready. So that was kind of the best thing we did for it was actually we just booked the studio, it wasn't finished, but we were like, right, well, booked the studio for, we had six months or something and then we were like, 'Right. If it's not done in 6 months. It's never going to be done'. So we have to, we have to get it done.
MAL-
That's the musical equivalent of buying a suit that is too small for your wedding.
DANIEL-
That's exactly right. That's exactly what it was.
MAL-
Okay, back to touring back when you could tour. Remember those times? Way back there.
DANIEL-
It feels like I've never told before now.
MAL-
You're a virgin when you start again, going in fresh. What's some of the best stories you can think of about touring, funny story on the bus, funny tour story, prank on stage maybe. What can you tell me? Someone get locked up? You know I've heard some pretty wild stories.
DANIEL-
We've never had any of that. One of the one of the first ones that comes to mind is when we got banned from playing in Malaysia and Indonesia. We got banned from there, whilst we were in the country, and it was all because of, I won't go into the details because I don't want to bring it up again, but it's because Jeff essentially made a joke about the... what's the word? (Mal- Be very careful here.) Yeah, he made a joke about the government in each of those countries on Facebook whilst we were in those countries and, and, you know, with the power of the internet these days, those Facebook posts, somehow got into the hands of the national media in those countries. (Mal- I can't imagine how.) Yeah. I know, right? And all of a sudden, we were told, 'You're banned, you need to leave as soon as possible and you're not welcome back, and we were getting all kinds of death threats and stuff. It was yeah. So that was quite scary one because we hadn't played the show yet in Indonesia. We were absolutely terrified. Luckily. It was actually all right, but then we had to just leave the minute after the show, but that's the first one that comes to mind that. It wasn't necessarily that funny, but it was pretty memorable. I don't know if we're gonna be going back to Malaysia or Indonesia anytime soon unfortunately, because it's such a great place to play, but it just shows you the power of social media, doesn't it? None of us considered it to be offensive. But you understand, you know, cultures are very different across the world and what you don't deem to be offensive could be very offensive to someone else. That's a bit of a lesson there. You know, let maybe don't make jokes straight away, think about it. But anyway, that was kind of crazy, that experience. So what we'll see what happens there, if we ever go back, if we're allowed back.
MAL-
Key words, IF you are ever ALLOWED back.
DANIEL-
Exactly, IF is the big one here.
MAL-
This album coming out on September 17 little bit of time yet. How pumped are you? How has it been going? How's the vibe man?
DANIEL-
Yeah. Yeah. Well, it seems pretty good. I mean we've released two songs now and they're both, they were the polar opposites of each other. The first one we released was like a fast thrashy one. The second one we released was super slow, groovy one. And that was intentional to kind of test the water because you know, to show you there's not just this stuff on the album. There's also this stuff. And it seems that both have been met with pretty positive reactions. So, I mean, there's obviously some people that don't like either of them and that's just music, you know, you can't please everybody but I think we're excited to show people the whole thing because even though we released two songs that are on different, the different sides of the spectrum there's still so much more in between those two types of songs that are on the album and I think yeah, it's weird because it's, we've had it for so long. It just doesn't seem that new anymore. Yeah, and it feels like, yeah. Yeah, we're already talking about like, you know, what could be the next step, you know, because it feels like our old album already, but it's kind of weird, but it's also incredibly exciting that people will finally hear what we spent so long trying to put together.
MAL-
Just don't second-guess yourself and go in and re-record it before releasing it.
DANIEL-
Actually. Now, we're gonna scrap it all and do it again.
MAL-
Yeah, good luck with that. Anything about the album, the recording of it, the release, what comes next that you want to run through? How you are things opening up for touring? What's the deal?
DANIEL-
That's kind of an interesting one because in theory, we're meant to be touring with ARCH ENEMY and BEHEMOTH in a couple of months round Europe, but as it stands, every single band is still kind of like, 'I don't know if it's gonna happen' and I think it's looking less and less likely, but no one's made the decision yet. In the UK we're doing really well. We've had festivals, we've had indoor shows. I don't want to speak too soon because, you know, it changes weekly, it changes daily. I guess, doesn't it? So it seems to be going all right, but the problem is in Mainland Europe there are so many restrictions in different countries that actually pulling a tour off, I honestly can't see it happening without, unless, you know, a bunch of the show's get cancelled and the tour gets shortened. But yeah, it's tough man. It's really tough. I think we've just confirmed a show in, November in the UK, a festival in the UK, and we confirm that because we assumed that, that one is the most likely to happen because it's the UK. The UK seems to be doing all right, but you know, we've got winter coming up, which is the worst time for all this. So, you know, it's kind of all up in the air, but our plan is to kind of, as of the next couple of weeks we're going to start rehearsing, basically, get ready to go out if we are able to go out. We want to be in a position where if stuff happens, we want to be ready for it. Instead of being, 'Ah, crap, we've only got a week and we need to rehearse'. So that's the plan really is to just start rehearsing and hope. And hopefully next year is, you know, we said this last year though, we said last year that next year is going to be the one so hopefully next year is going to be the one, we can even make it back to your neck of the woods, which is incredible, because yeah, we love going down there. It's always unbelievably cool on so many levels. So yeah, So the plan is to just release it, hope people like it and get ready to go on tour if we're able to ever go on tour.
MAL-
So yeah, thanks for coming on. Good luck with the album.
DANIEL-
Thank you very much.
MAL-
'Torn Arteries', out on September 17. Good luck with that. Good luck with the tour, man.
DANIEL-
Thank you man, hopefully it all goes ahead.
MAL-
Good luck with it, I really hope it comes off. Thanks for talking.

Ferocious and uncompromising in their execution, CARCASS’s ability to intricately dissect the innards of death metal, and display them for us to sonically understand has been their point of excellence for over three decades. Last December (2019) the band released their first single in over 5 years “Under The Scalpel Blade,” followed by a 4 song EP entitled Despicable (October 2020), setting a potent precedent for the full length album to come in 2021: TORN ARTERIES. With the album title itself referencing an old demo created by original drummer Ken Own back in the 80’s, TORN ARTERIES sits as a bookend on the modern side of the CARCASS discography, connecting directly back to where everything began over 30 years ago.

The album artwork also rings reminiscent of the grotesque photography that appears on classic CARCASS album covers like Reek Of Putrefaction of Symphonies of Sickness. Artist Zbigniew Bielak traveled outside his normal wheelhouse to bring forth a time lapsed set of photos showing vegetables shaped like a heart, rotting over time upon a white plate. This form of artwork was influenced by Japanese Kusôzu, meaning: ‘painting of the nine stages of a decaying corpse.’

“It’s very clean, white, which we’ve never done before,” explains Vocalist and Bassist Jeff Walker, “it doesn’t look evil, or typically death metal, but I like how clean it is; almost like a coffee table book.” This new album presents images, lyrics, and sounds that so distinctly scream CARCASS, but ferry us into a new era of production, songwriting, and art all together.

“I think as our 7th album, it does stand out from the others both sonically and stylistically,” explains Walker. “You can definitely tell that it’s CARCASS; when you drop that needle on the vinyl, when you hear that guitar tone, you can tell it’s Bill Steer, but each album is always a product of its time.”

The general approach to writing hasn’t changed much over the years for CARCASS. “There’s no real designed method,” analyzes Walker, “no one’s writing a song, coming in the room, and saying: ‘this is how the song goes.’ A lot of these songs are written around a rhythm, or an idea: have we ever had a song with this type of intro? Have we ever had a song with this type of drumming? If we didn’t care, we’d do the same generic, verse-chorus song writing bullshit, but we don’t want to repeat ourselves. We’re always trying to remain creative and have a valid purpose in what we’re doing.”

With TORN ARTERIES, each track stands unique from the rest in its approach to guitar, bass, vocals and drumming, along with all the finer details. Filthy and dominating guitar work creates thick layers of tone and melody, piling on top of each other like the weight of dead flesh in tracks like “Kelly’s Meat Emporium.”

“The working title for Kelly’s was originally ‘Stock Carcass,’” laughs Walker “we knew that one was a real meat and potatoes track for the album.” Meanwhile the elevated speed and catchy beat in “Dance of Ixtab” tell a robust and airier story, one that is certain to get a reaction from live crowds. “We built this song around the beat,” explains Walker, “we had an approach to each song that was a definite idea. It’s all about ‘what haven’t we done before?’”

Curious about the lyrics? CARCASS bets you are, but don’t expect them to be an easy puzzle to solve. Over the years metalheads the world over have referenced CARCASS’s complex, bizarre, and gore filled lyrics with affection, humor, and fascination. This time around will require fans to actually purchase the physical album, and closely examine the artwork in order to place the lyrics in their proper order. “I’d rather people spend time actually going through the record, listening to it, taking the words out as they hear them, and from there try to draw their own conclusions of what the lyrics are, instead of delivering them on a plate,” chuckles Walker.

Recording and Production for TORN ARTERIES wasn’t as simple as sitting down for a few weeks and knocking it all out, but rather spread out over the course of approximately 1 year bouncing back and forth between England and Sweden. Initially, drummer Daniel Wilding did session work in Sweden at Studio Gröndahl with David Castillo while guitars were recorded at The Stationhouse with James Atkinson in Leeds, England. Eventually needing some form of residential location to finalize vocals, bass, and other guitarwork, the band headed back to studio Gröndahl in Sweden to continue work in a very relaxed atmosphere with Castillo. “There was no real big plan to do it this way, the process just organically grew on its own,” says Walker.

Most will find that the only real struggle when indulging in TORN ARTERIES is fighting the desire to start it over the second it finishes. It covers substantial new ground for a band with such a reputation, while still retaining that addictive, time honoured CARCASS sound that has come to represent the face of true death metal.