Carcass // The Crawling // Strangle Wire // Live Review // The Limelight // Belfast
With the bank holiday weekend on the horizon, there seemed no better way to kick things off than to head to the Limelight for an evening of death metal, especially with a day of work to recover. Belfast was the first night of English Death metal legends Carcass’ Irish dates. Fantastic ticket sales had seen Limerick and Dublin sell out and Belfast not far behind.
Supports for all three dates were to be from local heavy hitters, The Crawling and Strangle Wire meaning that despite the early start the venue filled up quickly with people keen to see both bands.
Having started 2023 with a 2-week tour of the US Strangle Wire was on top form, launching into ‘Heavily Medicated’ in a ferocious manner which saw the crowd turn their attention towards the stage. During the next 30 minutes, the brutality did not wane for one second with frontman Peter Clarke stalking the stage and demanding the ever-growing crowd get closer and bang their heads. Having released ‘Shaped by Human Frailty’ towards the end of 2022 the set was mainly songs from this album with ‘Psychology of the Sick’ and ‘Judas Switch’ being personal highlights. The crowd surged forward for the final track, long-standing favourite ‘The Games they Play’ from ‘The Dark Triad’.
A change in pace was next as death doom band The Crawling took to the stage in atmospheric lighting and a haze of smoke. Drummer Gary Beattie was front and centre as the band played the new track ‘March of the Worm’ which will feature on their new album that is currently being recorded. It was certainly a stand-out track with the marching drum beat being something different for a death metal band. Unfortunately, the band seemed to have some technical problems during ‘Sparrow’ but they were quickly resolved and the popular track saw the crowd banging heads and singing along. Sadly, as with most doom bands, the length of the tracks meant that there was only time for 2 more songs and of course one of these had to be ‘The Right to Crawl’. Before finishing with ‘Wolves and the Hideous White’, singer and guitarist Andy Clarke thanked everyone for their ongoing support and an already enthusiastic crowd demonstrated why Belfast has such a strong metal scene.
After everyone had shopped for some merch and rehydrated themselves at the bar it was time for Carcass. It has been a while since I have seen a headline show from Carcass having only caught festival appearances and when they supported Behemoth in recent years. Tonight we would be treated to nearly 1 1/2 hours from the pioneers of death metal. The set had a fantastic selection of tracks from classics like ‘Buried Dreams’ and ‘Corporal Jigsore Quandary’ to those from the latest album ‘Torn Arteries’ like ‘Kellys’ Meat Emporium’. Bill Steer remains an absolute legend on guitar and Jeff Walker’s vocals were as brutal as ever. Drummer Daniel Wilding looked like he was having the time of his life from behind the kit.
With a back catalogue like Carcass’, it can be tough to squeeze everything in so we were treated to various medleys which included ‘Keep on Rotting in the Free World’. After a brief break, they came back on for their encore which included the always amazing “Heartwork’, a track that never ceases to see the crowd go mad. Pints were thrown in the air and the crowd surfing commenced. Finally, they wrapped the night up with ‘Tools of the Trade’ and the sweaty crowd dispersed murmuring how great a night it had been.
Ferocious and uncompromising in their execution, CARCASS’s ability to intricately dissect the innards of death metal and rebuild them in their own inimitable way, has been their point of excellence for over three decades. In 2019 the band released their first single in over 5 years ‘Under The Scalpel Blade‘, followed by a 4-song EP in 2020 titled Despicable, setting a potent precedent for their new full length album Torn Arteries. With the album title referencing an old demo created by original drummer Ken Owen back in the 80’s, Torn Arteriessits 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 and 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.’
Bill Steer – Guitars
Jeff Walker – Bass/Vocals
Daniel Wilding – Drums
James Blackford – Live Guitars