Reformed Carcass have been re-releasing their back catalogue and playing every metal festival around this year. Bob Mulhouse meets Michael Amott – the man responsible for practically the whole of modern extreme metal.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” says Michael Amott, guitarist with Carcass (temporarily) and Arch Enemy (permanently). “We had our first show the other night – and there were some fuckups, but it was basically fine. “Y’know, my motto has always been ‘Loud, wrong and confident’. There were some little things where your brain goes, ‘Hmm, what’s next?’, but you throw a few shapes and you’re OK!”
Carcass, for those who’ve been hibernating for the last two decades, are responsible for a hell of a lot. Starting life in parallel with Napalm Death, whose early grindcore sound evolved out of the underground punk scene in the early ’80s, the band recorded two albums of grind for the Earache label before Amott joined them in 1990.
Mike, a British-born Swede who had got to know the band through the tape-trading scene, was a perfect recruit for them, already playing in a death metal band, Carnage, which he’d formed on the back of his love of punk and extreme metal.
Watch the video to ‘Heartwork’ by Carcass
“I started with Kiss, then moved towards the Sex Pistols and Discharge,” he recalls. “I loved anything with shouting and lots of aggression. As a young kid I was into the speed of it, so when Metallica came along it just clicked for me: they had the aggression and speed of hardcore punk with the tightness, heaviness and guitar tone of metal. Then I was into Slayer – and from then on, it was all about trying to find the next, most evil band, which took me into the death metal scene.”
“It was great,” he adds, “because we were all 16 or 17 and finding out about Morbid Angel and Obituary when they were just doing demos. Death’s first album came out then, too, and there was all the German stuff – Kreator and Destruction – which I loved and which also fed into the death metal movement. It was crude, not as well played as the American stuff, and therefore it was much more harsh and violent, which I loved. I thought ‘Fuck yeah, this is it!’”
However, Amott was also a huge fan of hard-rock guitarists such as Michael Schenker and John Norum of Europe – and brought a newfound melodic awareness to the band. The first Carcass album on which he appeared was Necroticism: Descanting The Insalubrious (1991), which featured a prototype of what we now recognise as melodic death metal.
Watch the video to ‘Incarnated Solvent Abuse’ by Carcass
Fans were split between shock at the departure of the old, grindcore style and elation at this new, technical sound – but almost two decades later, Necroticism is almost universally recognised as a classic.
After another album, the superb Heartwork (1993), Amott departed to Arch Enemy, where he remains today. Carcass themselves split three years later, but demand always remained strong for a reunion – and with the international melodic death metal scene now a commercial reality, there’s been no better time to do it than now.
“I don’t hold myself responsible for anything!” laughs Amott modestly – but we know better. Carcass changed everything, if you were a death metal fan – see them while you can. The reunion won’t last forever.