Interview: Carcass Guitarist Bill Steer on Seventh Studio Album, ‘Torn Arteries’

Carcass started out in the late ’80s, and that’s a damn long time ago in band years. After 1996’s Swan Song, they split until 2007, and then released the dynamic Surgical Steel in 2013. It wasn’t like some reunion tour, no sir, Carcass isn’t made of that ilk: they make art for the pure sake of making art. Perhaps their most varied record to date, Torn Arteries, due out September 17 via Nuclear Blast, pulls inspiration from each era and transcends it with a new mind. It’s an album that takes chances at every angle, as much extremity as loose construction. Carcass moves at Carcass speed, always has, there is no time to stop and enjoy the view.  

“Well, I guess that’s a little like standing on the top of a tall building and looking over the edge,” guitarist and co-founder Bill Steer laughs. “It’s almost like something you don’t want to do, it might undermine your confidence. It’s bewildering to me. Obviously extreme metal is such a different world than the one we were involved in during the original incarnation of the band. Jeff and myself always had this feeling of ‘do what feels right, and you won’t please everybody but at least you can stand behind what you’ve done,’ and the people who’ve always followed the band from record to record will come along with you, because they get that, it’s not the kind of band that every album is made from the same template.” 

Ten tracks make up Torn Arteries, a record that pushes one way, only to circumnavigate towards another. It’s got all the flash that Heartwork had, and all the grime and grind Symphonies of Sickness showcased, and yet is still completely new, a sound that is of its age. Its compositions are both straight and bent, taking turns only a freethinking entity would take. The spirit of creation is there, shining like a light in a chamber, a feeling that is pure energy.   

“I realize now how non-analytical our approach is,” Steer notes. “I guess there’s something that’s implicit, there’s something that’s understood between the three of us when we’re working on tunes, and it’s more of a feel thing, then something that’s discussed at length. What I would say with this record, for me personally, the raw material I was bringing in, which obviously goes through the mince with this band, a lot of changes and rearrangements take place because Dan and Jeff have a lot of ideas, but initially my thing was: I wanted each track to have something, some kind of feel, groove, an element that hadn’t been there before in a Carcass record. I just felt we couldn’t justify making a new album if didn’t bring something new to the table.” 

Torn Arteries’ release was delayed over a year due to COVID, and in between, the band put out the EP Despicable, a little taste of things to come. The band’s seventh studio album sees things only getting tastier, and it’s not just irony that the record’s cover features a heart made of vegetables. Steer is just now hearing the record for the first time, for the second time.  

“I still really like the album,” he laughs. “Throughout the past year or however many months it’s been, I deliberately avoided listening to it, so that when we came back to it it’d be fresh. And when we started doing these interviews I was like, ‘I guess I better start listening to it again,’ and it’s just really fun.”  

Watch the video for “Dance of Ixtab” here:

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Photo courtesy of Carcass and Hannah Verbeuren

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