Live Review / Gallery: Carcass / Conjurer / Coffin Mulch, Church Dundee 28/05/23

I cycled to the gig. About 6:30 pm, after the traffic had died down. A lovely quiet freewheel on the long downhill across the Tay Bridge into Dundee, blissfully calm, blazing evening sunshine. Towards a sweaty dark box full of beards and black tshirts, people pushing each other over while other folk take turns making disgusting, repulsive noises from the stage. Somehow, almost unbelievably, a rescheduled Glasgow date has brought 90s Death/Grind champions Carcass to Scotland’s sunniest city; Dundee. Let’s go.

Coffin Mulch by Marilena Vlachopoulou

Openers Coffin Mulch’s social media says “Glasgow old school death metal” and they’re not lying. They roll around between classic 90s Entombed vibes – thick ‘swedish chainsaw’ guitar, guttural barks, some cracking riffs – and bursts of frantic D-beat hardcore. Great. Bought a t-shirt. Criticisms? Em… well, I’m stretching, but ‘on first’ meant a 30 minute set, and I need more than that. You know what to do Coffin Mulch, we’re just up the road.

Conjurer by Marilena Vlachopoulou

Conjurer strike this really interesting balance of artfulness and clinical presentation. It’s slick, but it’s not easy; it’s discordant, complex and challenging but presented with an exact heft. Their music’s new to me, but clearly not to the majority of the room. I expect comparisons to Sumac, Neurosis, Meshuggah aren’t uncommon alongside the death metal stuff, maybe even a bit of post-rock at times. Their live sound’s monumental either way, huge, loud as fuck, and their performance is off the chart. A pal leans over and said “they’re outstanding”. I don’t disagree.

Carcass by Marilena Vlachopoulou

Carcass, by contrast, sound gnarlier. It’s not a criticism. They’re tight, but they’re organic; punk; alive. The set covers the whole stretch but is mostly centred around ‘Heartwork’ (the best british metal record of the 90s? Not far off being the best metal record for my money) and the 2 albums since their comeback; ‘Surgical Steel’ and 2022’s excellent ‘Torn Arteries’. I know the songs well and having them back to back in almost a ‘greatest hits’ set makes it feel surprising just how many classics there are. There’s something stand-out in their writing for sure; Death Certificate is a highlight, as is Corporal Jigsore Quandary from Necroticism. Sure they’re a death metal band, but – throwing in some (underrated btw) stuff from Swansong into the set – they have something of Maiden or Thin Lizzy about them too. How? How does a band this full-on live – blastbeats and screaming – manage to come across almost as much Classic Rock as Grindcore? What’s interesting is that their massive progression is all here but it all sounds like Carcass live; it’s all the same band. Bill and Jeff.

Carcass by Marilena Vlachopoulou

Their encore – after Bill Steer agrees to come back on – starts back with the old old stuff; Exhumed to Consume is appropriately horrible. Good horrible. 2 more tunes and they’re done. I never saw Carcass in the 90s, in what you would expect is their ‘prime’, but I genuinely can’t imagine they were ever better than this. 

Photos by Marilena Vlachopoulou

Words by Fraser Simpson

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