posted on 7/2011 By:
Being an ardent Carcass fan, I have spent time exploring some of the work of the many Carcass clones that cropped up in the wake of that legendary act’s demise, but Sweden’s General Surgery’s had thusfar eluded me. This was likely due to the fact that the band did not release a full-length album until 2006, some time after the heyday of Carcass clones in the late 90s and through to the early 2000s. The history of General Surgery, however, goes back over twenty years. The band was formed by guitarist Joacim Carlsson in 1988 (which is not coincidentally the same year that Carcass released its debut ), and early line-ups featured future Dismember members Matti Karki (bass/vocals) and Richard Cabeza (vocals). After some demos, General Surgery released its debut EP Necrology in 1991, beating most of the Carcass clones to the punch by several years. Following the EP's release, General Surgery would go quiet for over a decade, until its re-activation in 2003. In the wake of General Surgery’s resurgence, Relapse has reissued this remastered and expanded version of Necrology.
“Carcass clone” can be a somewhat derogatory and misleading term, as many of the bands so labeled have developed a strong musical personality of their own, but for General Surgery circa Necrology, the shoe fits. Necrology is, quite simply, General Surgery’s attempt to recreate Reek of Putrefaction. In this endeavor General Surgery is remarkably successful. Of course, Reek of Putrefaction -- groundbreaking, genre-defining classic though it may be -- sounds like complete shit. The album’s production is a travesty and Carcass admits as much in the album’s liner notes. Thankfully, General Surgery deviates from the source material in this one respect. Necrology effectively captures the dark churning sound of Reek, but with much improved clarity. (With the production in the capable hands of Thomas Skogsberg, this is not surprising.) Performance-wise, General Surgery nails Carcass' early sound and, to some extent, improves upon it. With a generally tighter, more focused performance, the riffs on this EP hit harder than most anything that managed to escape into audibility from Reek’s vortex of sludge.
Being the first band to copy another band is not exactly a laudable achievement, but General Surgery did it faithfully and well. If you cannot get enough of the early Carcass sound, Necrology will be twenty one minutes of pure bliss.
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