Choice Cuts

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Irrational as it may seem for an uncompromising band like Carcass to issue a conventional "greatest hits" album, enough years have passed and enough dust settled since the band's demise for 2004's Choice Cuts to feel not only justifiably apropos, but inexplicably delayed in its arrival. Sure, stringent metalheads could make endless arguments about the superior experience of discovering original studio albums like the grindcore landmark Symphonies of Sickness and the avant-death metal masterpiece Heartwork individually. But considering the group's radical evolution over the course of recording these and three more seminal LPs -- not to mention the dubious merits of the only previous comparable alternative, Wake Up and Smell the Carcass (a well-intentioned, but frankly exclusionary odds-and-sods set bogged down by way too many alternate versions of the same songs), it was high time that first-time listeners were given such a handy, if certainly concise, sampling from all eras of Carcass' career. That is indeed what they'll find here: starting with 13 songs profiled in chronological order and progressing from wonderfully brazen affronts to good taste (the grindcore 101 of "Genital Grinder" and "Maggot Colony"), to steadily ambitious sonic constructions with lyrics often resembling medical handbooks from hell ("Tools of the Trade," "Corporal Jigsore Quandary," the hysterical "Exhume to Consume"), and, finally, startlingly melodic, even accessible, death metal classics ("Buried Dreams," "No Love Lost," "This Is Your Life," etc.). Next, and somewhat more in keeping with Carcass' whimsical philosophies, there come eight additional primal favorites taped at sessions by unlikely early supporter John Peel, in 1989 and 1990, which prove that, for all their latter-day civility, Carcass were at their most original and influential when spraying blood and guts everywhere. In sum, 21 truly "choice cuts" in all, representing the ultimate CliffsNotes for the uninitiated. Not only will they allow newcomers to get a taste of what's on hand before delving deeper into the studio albums themselves, but they lend further weight to Carcass' still impressively valid contributions not only to grindcore, but heavy metal as a whole. Essential.

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