This includes heavy alternative music too, as for a good while, local promoter Scott Meredith would organise CELTIC MOSH, a monthly music night of some of the UK’s hardest, fresh, up and coming underground metal acts. He regularly brought the heavy...but, it’s safe to say, few expected the level of heaviness about to hit this traditionally industrial town tonight. On Wednesday, May 31st, RIFF YARD MEDIA was a welcomed guest in The Redhouse, as UK Goregrind / death ’n’ roll veterans CARCASS makes Merthyr their morgue for the evening...and they brought friends. Let's see what unfolds as we go headbanging in the heads of the valleys...
As per, the day was an adventure purely because this reviewer had completely forgotten about the gig. I was on lunch at the day job, sat in the Sun enjoying a cigarette, checking my emails, when I open a message from HOLD TIGHT PR (Thank you Lisa) confirming my press allocation for the event. I initially think, awesome, look forward to that, let me double check when it is again...oh...it’s TONIGHT? Shit. This alters my evening. No boring sitcom–esque cliches needed but insert the absolute mad-rush montage here of me trying to get into Merthyr for the 7pm doors after work. Imagine Benny Hill but in Drop G tuning...
Regardless, I get to Merthyr for AROUND 7pm(ish), and there is a noticeably unusual amount of people with Camo cargo shorts and denim battle vests, full of random-ass patches. You can tell there’s a metal gig going down. One lad had a U2 badge sewn on though...and I am quite surprised he wasn’t taken to where the streets have no name, and been subject to a Wednesday bloody Wednesday to the point where the local police still haven’t found what they're looking for. I digress. Heading up the steps at the entrance of The Redhouse, I get my entry wristband, grab a pint can from their café-turned-bar room and head in to prepare for tonight's only support act; CONJURER.
The Warwickshire 4-piece (Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Dan Nightingale, guitarist/vocalist Brady Deeprose, bassist Conor Marshall and drummer Noah See) are on a mission to reduce the Redhouse to rubble tonight, and they probably could have given time. While their set begins sweetly enough with some acoustic backing track and blue mood lighting, they soon tear into “It Dwells” and for the next 45 minutes, there is zero respite. It’s a small venue, and every riff, every throat burning scorcher of a vocal line has nowhere to go but through you, as you feel the bass, physically pummelling your chest harder than the local Gurnos boy racer, with the newest copied Clubland CD on full volume in his second-hand stolen Vauxhall Corsa. Both vocalists are situated either side of the stage, allowing Conor to take FULL advantage of his long locks and windmill his hair like he’s been sponsored by Head & Shoulders. Honestly, it’s majestic.
There’s little in the way of communication between band and crowd here as they mean business, as they soon switch into “Rot” for a “Pathos” double-header. The slower, doom aspects of their metal, with subtle djent qualities really scrapes the gutter for this death-inspired onslaught; it truly is unforgiving. “Suffer Alone” has a far faster pacing and the punk-rich percussion allows this death/thrash monster to just tear through this packed hall. ”Scorn”, taken off their debut EP “I” showcases their early material, and the dual approach of Dan, who has the deeper, demonic vocals, while Brady has the higher pitched visceral snarling, giving them an extra dynamic. At one point Dan just steps away from the mic and just growls into the crowd and we can still hear him fine. Impressive control and projection credit to him, the bear that he is. The crowd don’t need much warming up on this fine summer evening but, fair play, Conjurer came in hot.
The slow brooding intro with the cleanest riff work and percussion is perfect for any set and everybody's soon very much hyped, as Jeff snarls and stamps his authority over tonight's crowd. The melodic solo guitar work is a welcome touch after the absolute hammering from our opener and it elevates everything; things are off to a great start here. “Kelly’s Meat Emporium” from their 2021 album “Torn Arteries” follows up and proves the band have not lost a step, delivering crushing quality into their later years, and they showcase their longevity. The intensity and aggression are still there and they must be applauded.
Early noise/thrash EP’s like “Tools Of The Trade” get a showing with tracks like “Incarnated Solvent Abuse” and it’s got a raw, nostalgic vibe, providing a window into a time where metal, thrash, death and blackened genres were all fresh-faced and confident after branching out, and Carcass were a centrepiece. It’s brash, it’s frenetic, it’s up-tempo and it’s fun, albeit menacing. “Under The Scalpel Blade” fast-forwards to new material and really the only difference in sound is experience by this point. They’ve honed their craft and after such a lengthy career, they’ve purified something putrid. By this time there is a mini mosh-pit on the go, and there’s a young lad wearing a PARTY CANON shirt, riding someone's shoulders, giving it the horns, living his absolute best life. Go on son.
There are a few more tracks in this 17-track set, including “Tomorrow Belong’s To Nobody” from 1996’s “Swansong”, and the blend of old and new works incredibly well. Thrash, alongside its darker sub-genres is either a style you do well, or just come across as a parody, or stale, or frankly laughable. Carcass have the history, the credibility, the quality and the class to rise above all of that. Not as big as the Big 4, and not as bleak as their Nordic peers (You’ll never burn down Liverpool’s church, Anfield security is TIGHT), but if you aren’t already a bald middle-aged metal head, and just discovering darker thrash...I recommend Carcass. Sadly, I can’t watch the whole gig, as I must get a taxi home for the day job...and there are tracks I did miss, but Carcass brought the goods. Whether you appreciate that or not depends on if you are Ed Gein. (I jest, they are vegetarian). A fucking brilliant gig that was.