This is the birth of melodic death metal in Britain, or something like that.
I know nothing of Carcass before this record or since. Apparently they were a grindcore band that drastically changed (for metal) to a death metal band. Then they made this. And this record is the supposedly the first melodic death metal album…to be made by a British band. (You see, apparently the Swedes were making this record already.)
Reading the reviews on RYM is hilarious: half the people love it and half the people think it’s some kind of sell out. (I ask you, people who think this record sells out, to find your closest friend who does not listen to metal and play this for them and see how they react to your idea that this music is too commercial. Don’t spend too much time in one scene, man.)
I know earlier death metal and I know later melodic death metal but, unfortunately I guess, I don’t know much (any?) death metal or melodic death metal from the early 1990s, so I basically have nothing to go by. I have listened to enough extreme metal, though, to get that this is particularly melodic for death metal, even if it isn’t particularly melodic for, you know, most other genres of music. If it’s innovative, that’s a good. (I don’t think it quite is, as I alluded to above, but who knows?) But I do know that it is pretty pummeling (relatively speaking) and it’s well played – some of the lead parts are fairly technically impressive regardless of how horribly catchy some of you think they are.
I agree that the production isn’t great – I detect flange on at least one part of one song and I thought that was something people only did in, like, 1968.
Without enough context I can say that this is pretty good. It mostly does what I want for a metal album and it’s unique enough that I wouldn’t confuse it for some other things.
PS: For a good time, find a metal album controversial within the metal community, such as this one, and read the reviews on a user review site such as rateyourmusic.com. This is particularly fun if you don’t listen to metal because then you can read how this album, which sounds incredibly extreme to your ears, is too “melodic” or whatever sin it happens to have committed with the extreme metal fans.