Heartwork marks Carcass' return after the self-imposed hiatus that followed 1991's Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious. It's also the pioneering grindcore outfit's breakthrough release, successfully grafting melody onto the existing muscle of Carcass' punishing antimusic. After a blistering opening salvo, the title track decelerates into a mid-tempo guitar lead, only to shift gears into a meaty verse that suggests the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. "Carnal Forge" and "Arbeit Macht Fleisch" are compacted with intricate, overlapping riffs that are relentless in their move forward, and yet there's still a sense of structure and melody, buried somewhere amid the carnage. Jeff Walker's vocals are consistent in their throat-ripping fierceness throughout the record, especially on "This Is Your Life," which messes with mixing to make the track truly arresting if listened to with headphones. While of normal album length, Heartwork nevertheless seems over too quickly, as if its bloodthirsty front end bit off its own backside. Some purists might decry its melodic breaks for soloing or nods toward conventional structure. But Heartwork is that rare album that so carefully dissects and reconstructs its original form that its additional body parts seem like they were there all along.
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