I know it may appear to all you average Joe reader types that the life of a heavy metal blogger is one nonstop exercise in pure playboy luxury…
…and that’s absolutely correct. I’m writing this review from the private jet that’s flying me back home from Last Rites’ bi-weekly gambling vacation in Monaco, and you’ll have to forgive any typos as I keep spilling this 50-year-old single malt on the keyboard while I’m explaining to Gigi Hadid and Miranda Kerr about the finer points of the Phobia discography.
But occasionally, I do tire of the endless jetset parties with supermodels and the Illuminati, and in those moments, I’m just like you schlubs, piled up on the couch I got for free because my parents didn’t want it anymore (hey, it’s a perfectly good couch!) and cycling endlessly through the Netflix account that my girlfriend pays for (hey, I pay for Amazon Prime!) and trying to find anything at all that I haven’t already seen that happens to catch my eye.
When that happens and there’s nothing new or immediate, I have certain inevitable fallbacks, certain established tendencies that give a film or a show a fighting chance to hold my interest. One of those is the ever-faithful shoot-‘em-up, that bare basic action film that pits some gun-slinging hero against an army of gun-slinging zeros who get mowed down by the dozens like it’s their first day on the bad-guy job. I’ve seen hundreds of these films: some were great, many were good, many more than that were less good but nevertheless enjoyable, and yet, surprisingly, only a very few were terrible.
And now like Gigi and Miranda, you’re wondering where I’m going with this…
And I’m going here: Carcass established the framework for the gore metal sound some thirty-ish years ago – laying the groundwork with the grinding Reek Of Putrefaction and then evolving that sound over two more undeniable classics. Since then, enough bands have aped the sick symphonies and descanted the insalubrious to make the term “Carcass worship” one that’s almost synonymous with an entire style. There’s Exhumed, and Impaled, and General Surgery, and The County Medical Examiners, and the bloody Spaniards in Haemorrhage, all of whom have released fun slices of sickness within the narrow parameters of Carcass’ midperiod arc. Like those shoot-‘em-up films, they aren’t original, per se, and some are dumbed-down to the point of silliness, but each has enough of a spin on the established approach that, when combined with the familiarity of the paradigm, makes experiencing them quite enjoyable.
Haemorrhage was formed in 1991 – the same year that Necroticism was released – and they’ve released seven albums in the twenty-five years since. Like Carcass, their earliest efforts were ragtag – Haemorrhage’s 1992 split with Exhumed is damned near unlistenable – and yet, they expanded and improved with each effort. By the time 2006’s Apology For Pathology was picked up by Relapse, Haemorrhage had found their footing – they’d maximized their strangely catchy goregrind, and finally they had a stouter production to back up their gore-soaked goodies. Follow-up Hospital Carnage hammered the point home, and now here with are, with album number three for Relapse, and it’s the next step forward – the tunes are still grinding, but there’s more melody creeping in, more mid-to-late era Carcass than the earlier, gurglier side.
Opening track “Nauseating Employments” is a paean “to the shit-shovelers,” the morgue workers, forensic techs, and all the various persons who deal with any number of gross things. It’s Haemorrhage’s version of “We Are The Road Crew,” and it’s a smashing start, with some simple riffs that still cut as sharply as a scalpel beneath Lugubrious’ snarling growl. “Gore Gourmet” makes the best of its chanted “gore” chorus and a simple but effective breakdown, and then the title tracks wraps it up in fine fashion. From there, We Are The Gore is like that shoot-‘em-up: It plows through track after track like Our Hero guns down baddies, but admittedly, some of those villains do tend to get a little bit faceless. Still, the blood spatters and the heart patters as the bodies pile up. Some stand out – the groovy “Medical Maniacs,” or the punny fun of “Gynecrologist” – and others blur together into a bloody smear.
At this point, I doubt anyone picks up a Haemorrhage album looking for something out of left field – but if you’re thinking of picking up a Haemorrhage album, We Are The Gore is the best I’ve heard from them. Sure, you’ve heard this type of thing before, and it’s not terribly likely to blow your socks off, but that doesn’t make it any less fun in the moment. It’s a familiar sound, done very well, and if straight-ahead death-y goregrind gets your blood flowing, then We Are The Gore is as good as this particular sub-style gets.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, we have dinner reservations in Paris, and I really must get back to these supermodels…