Carcass, the death metal legends who have been concerning mothers for nearly forty years need no introduction. Normally they play to much larger venues and iconic festivals but tonight they are set to decimate the Phoenix in Exeter. The humble sized venue is packed to the brim for the sold out show and the air is thick with humidity and excitement from fans new and old young and well, old. There is slight confusion over why the mighty Conjurer are on first, as not many have heard of the next support act who have come all the way from Portland – Unto Others. It is an early start as well, but it seems that most of the crowd are luckily here already to mostly fill the main room. Despite only having two albums under their unassuming belts Conjurer have been kicking ass and conquering stages to amass a growing army of fans and down the country, and in fact all over the world in venues and festivals alike and are set to be the perfect support with their swirling sludgy doomy post metal which is played faster than the genres might imply and blended together end up with a very metallic edge.
The quartet from Rugby feature a feverish unrelenting insanity in their music and the bassist has the most impressive windmilling capabilities – possibly offset by his lanky stature and long glossy locks. Co guitarists/vocals have a similar style to Meshuggah’s Jens Kidman and there are indeed djenty, progressive elements strewn throughout the riff-tastic tracks. Through the chaos there are doomy drawn out breakdowns that fill the negative space that allow the formidable foursome to draw ragged heavy breaths like a monster ready to attack again with explosive bursts of energy. They are cohesive and tight as fuck with a sound that is so hard to pinpoint being an impressive amalgamation of so many influences that they have ultimately created their own unique, intriguing and devastating sound which the rabid crowd lap up and obediently morph into a swarming mass of limbs that matches the swirling fever pitch of the music.
It would seem the second act Unto Others might have been better placed as the opening act as they really split the crowd and sent some back to the smoking area or bar in disgust. However, they improved throughout the set and became somewhat endearing to the guilty pleasure, sleazy goth rock (think Sisters of Mercy with a sprinkle of doom ) lovers in the room- including yours truly. The too cool for school quartet are seemingly not a fitting band for this bill yet travelled from Portland to tour with a bunch of Scousers but have clearly done something right and actually do strike a chord with even the most sceptical of assholes. The crooning singer is a solid ‘wears his sunglasses at night’ kinda dude, like a hybrid of The Cures Robert Smith/ Glen Danzig and of course Andrew Eldritch really- the whole band have a kind of Lost Boys / eighties hair metal vibe, it is super cheesy yet also melodic, macabre, and gloomy in all the right ways. Moody growls are met by intertwining guitars ascend into heavier realms but also feature a disco groove in places which gets the entranced audience pulsating to the beat. Really, when all is said and done they prove the naysayers wrong and turn out to be an enrapturing and devilish surprise.
It is finally time for what we have all been waiting for and there is barely room to moveat this point. The quartet of Liverpudlians erupt in an explosion of squealing guitars and they are the unmistakable riffs of the intro to 1992’s ‘Buried Dreams’. Of course the crowd goes buckwild, punching the air, head banging with wild abandon and shouting the (probably incorrect) lyrics). Bassist Jeff Walkers raspy vocals are still on point and for some reason the way his hair billows in the wind machine and guitarist Bill Steers impressive flares are both badass and endearingly epic. The atmosphere is gleefully electric and builds to a wild frenzy in the long set of both new and old tracks to please the new and old fans alike as the age range here is unsurprisingly quite considerable.
Sometimes Carcass can arguably be a bit hit and miss or samey, however tonight they are on fire or on point, or whatever the cool kids are saying this day dn it as an absolute joy and so much fuckign fun to be part of this one off experience that is unlikely to happen again. As it feels like they are bound to announce their closing tracks the veterans just keep going and when they depart after ‘Heartwork’ Walker suddenly appears again, quipping something to the like of “ The more you drink the louder you shout. The more you shout the longer we play.” He then informs us, supposedly jokingly – “Bill Steer is taking a piss, actually he is taking a piss” before the beflared silver haired Steer returns and they out blast put three more incendiary tracks concluding with the imitable ‘316 L Surgical Steel’ and successfully cementing this night in the minds of many as unforgettable.
Words and Images: Abi Coulson – Darktones Photography