Carcass (photo credit: Ester Segarra)
Since announcing their reformation in 2007, Carcass have re-established their status as one of the UK’s premier extreme metal acts. The death metal and grindcore pioneers have released two highly regarded albums in Surgical Steel (2013) and Torn Arteries (2021). They have also made several high-profile festival appearances, including headlining the Dogtooth stage at Download in 2019 and headlining Bloodstock Open Air in 2009, as well as touring extensively both nationally and internationally.
This Friday (2nd June 2023) sees Carcass return to perform in Liverpool for the first time in over twenty years. The ‘Bloody Blighty 2023’ tour will see the band stop at the O2 Academy, supported by Conjurer and Unto Others.
Given their enduring connection with the city, the band’s return to Liverpool is a momentous occasion. Carcass’s long-time members vocalist/bassist Jeff Walker and guitarist/vocalist Bill Steer (as well as original drummer Ken Owen) grew up in Merseyside and established their reputation as a live act largely by treading the boards at Planet X, which was situated at various locations in Liverpool city centre including Temple Street and then Hardman Street.
Initially formed in 1984 when Steer and Owen were teenagers at school on the Wirral, the early incarnation of Carcass did not last long. Although a metal fan (Steer’s first concert was Iron Maiden at the Royal Court on their ‘Killers’ tour), the guitarist ended up becoming part of the hardcore punk scene as a member of the band Disattack. This happened, as he put it, “out of necessity” because at the time this scene was the “closest thing we had to the music we liked.” Reflecting on the formation and gradual development of Carcass during an interview for the Metal on Merseyside book, Steer stated that:
“When I was about fifteen, I did have a band called Carcass in school with some friends. In those days Ken didn't play drums, he didn’t own a drum kit, he was just the vocalist in the band, we had this older lad playing drums. We were just too young and disorganised and the whole thing I think petered out after a couple of months possibly, it didn’t last long.
Then I got involved with the punk lads and did the Disattack thing and then as that was starting to change, they were expressing interest in playing something more approaching metal. Jeff came into the band on bass having just been removed from Electro Hippies for whatever reason it was, and I think Jeff realised that we had a lot in common musically and the other guys didn’t so much. So, we’re talking about what we really wanted to do musically, and it was something very extreme, so we decided, “Yes, let’s bring back the name Carcass,” and before you knew it, Ken had a drum kit and that’s really when the band began - the band that people know.”
During their early years, Carcass were a regular fixture at Planet X, almost to the point where they could be considered as the venue’s house band. In an interview for the Metal on Merseyside book Walker explained that: “We were like the go to band when you needed a support act, these bigger bands playing. So, we'd get thrown £30 and we played nearly every Saturday. We had a bit of a local following. We were totally indifferent to be honest because we were twats but looking back it was cool. It was a good way to [learn]... it was free rehearsals.”
Flyer for Entombed and Carcass UK dates in 1990
Between 1987 and 1990 Carcass performed at Planet X at least 16 times (Steer admits that it may have been more because they were sometimes asked to step in at the last minute due to cancellations). When they take to the stage at the O2 Academy this Friday it will be virtually 33 years since they last played at Planet X. That final appearance was in support of melodic death metal luminaries, Entombed, and took place on 1st June 1990. The name of that tour only underlines the historical significance of the current one, for it was also dubbed the ‘Bloody Blighty’ tour.
With Friday's gig being upgraded to the larger O2 Academy 1 recently, the stage is set for a triumphant return that is over 20 years in the making. We'll see you in the pit.