Alongside Americans Exhumed and Impaled, Spain’s Haemorrhage is among the first bands that spring to mind when I hear the term “Carcass worship.” Between the medical-dictionary gore themes, the gruesome death / grind and the snarled / growled / gurgled vocal attack, Haemorrhage has their homage to the corpse-filled crawlspace between Reek Of Putrefaction and Symphonies Of Sickness refined to razor sharpness. Original it isn’t, but even though it re-animates the same rotting cadaver endlessly, this particular sub-sub-genre of blood-splattered grinding death remains enjoyable to the bone.
The band’s first official release for Relapse (after 2006’s Apology For Pathology was re-issued by that label last year), Hospital Carnage doesn’t expand the band’s stylistic boundaries, but it does offer up a slightly higher-quality sound for their slicing and dicing. I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve heard from these Spaniards (although I admit that my exploration of their catalog hasn’t been extensive—this is the third of their releases that I’ve picked up), but in similar fashion to their gore-metal countrymen in Machetazo, I’ve also typically been slightly underwhelmed by some close-but-not-quite-solid production values. Though there is still room for improvement, Haemmorhage has corrected a large part of that problem in time for this latest effort, and thus their newest becomes their best sounding. Goregrind shouldn’t be clean, of course – it’s sick and virulent, after all, not sterile and pristine. But a record can sound putrid without sounding under-produced, and Hospital Carnage achieves Haemorrhage’s best blend of quality sound and vomitous ugliness.
Song-wise, Hospital Carnage exhumes the usual bodies – there are plenty of chord-driven grind riffs, sporadic blasting amidst plentiful and sickly grooves, and enough pitch-shifted belches to offset the guttural grimy vocals. In true goregrind fashion, samples crop up periodically, as do some well-placed keyboard pads, but overall, this is the sound of bloody sickness, the same as the band’s other releases, just honed in and focused through almost two decades of refinement. The guitars are dirty and fuzzy – sometimes too much so to adequately distinguish certain riffs, but overall, their gnarly tone fits the splatter subject matter well. Where Carnage’s sonics see the biggest improvement over those of Pathology is in the drum production – the earlier efforts featured a more ringing lo-fi snare sound, an admitted pet peeve of mine, while Carnage adds more crack to the attack without sacrificing the live, roomy feel. The bass is properly subterranean, and though the guitars could be a hair sharper, on the whole, Hospital slices with a suitably filthy tone.
As mentioned, stylistically, Hospital Carnage doesn’t step outside the band’s comfort zone, but it’s nevertheless a fine example of Carcass-praising gore metal done properly. Most importantly, given their already-established penchant for quality song-craft, this record is the best sonic representation of Haemmorhage’s power that I’ve heard thusfar. Not a mandatory massacre, but absolutely a fun one, and well worth a listen to anyone with the ears and stomach and twisted mindset for such blood-soaked madness…