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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

The County Medical Examiners

Olidous Operettas

Review by Mike Korn

Just who do we trust our health and well-being to? What lurks behind the affable, white-smocked facade of our trained physicians? Is it all BMWs, golf and trips to the Bahamas that entertains members of the medical fraternity? Or are some of them devoted to...darker pursuits?

With the County Medical Examiners, we have three trained and respected members of the medical fraternity who keep themselves entertained by praising and emulating the legendary English band Carcass, the originators of sickening forensic goregrind. So influential has Carcass become in the metal underground that legions of bands imitate their combination of ultra-distorted but catchy riffing, tasteless gory visuals and precise medical terminology. But none do it with the authenticity of the County Medical Examiners. These "mad doctors" are Dr. Morton Fairbanks, Dr. Jack Putnam and latest recruit Dr. Guy Radcliffe, who is 63 years of age and also plays in classical and jazz bands. Together, this trio have created one of the most thoroughly complete acts of Carcass-worship ever seen. Even the repulsive "cadaver collage" imagery of the cover recalls the masters.

This is not music for the faint-hearted or those who flinch at the site of plasma. It is absolute mimicry of Carcass in their infamous Reek of Putrefaction / Symphonies of Sickness / Necroticism days. If you can accept it as such, you will certainly enjoy it. If Carcass never reforms, then we have the next best thing in the County Medical Examiners. I only hope if I get in a serious car accident, one of these gentlemen will immortalize my injuries in song!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Casper's Dictum
The pitch-shifted growl and gruesomely grimy riffing that kicks this off will certainly warm the hearts of all pathological grind fans who remember Carcass' "Incarnated Solvent Abuse" with fondness. The trade-off between super guttural belching grumbles and manic raspy gasps is here in all its glory. This is gore-grind in its most clinically dynamic form...catchy, fast and filthy as hell!
Morgagnic Anatomics
A look at the online medical dictionary reveals a painful affliction called "Morgagni's Hernia,” named in honor of the Italian physician. This tune is a bit more mid-paced and pounding, but maintaining the sewer-chewing vocals and distorted guitar crunch. The ditty speeds up nicely as the doctors proceed to the meat of the operation and it is obvious to me that Dr. Jack Putnam handles his drums with the skill of a seasoned neurosurgeon. This grind epic covers a lot of territory!
Necrotic Apologues
When listening to the County Medical Examiners, it becomes obvious that Carcass itself was pretty musically adept. Some ghostly keyboards and sound effects help make this one of the most morbid tunes on an already grim platter. In fact, the mid-section here reminds me of Death's "Leprosy" as much as anything in the Carcass purview. There's some almost tasteful lead guitar, but don't worry, it doesn't last too long.
Blunt Force Flight
By now, the surgical plan of the CME is clear. There will be no let-up in the Carcass-obsessed assault. I found this one of the lesser cuts on the disc, mostly due to riffs that didn't seem to stick out as much. It also seems to last a bit longer than it should. That being said, anyone who likes it fast and sick will appreciate it.
The Virchow Postmortem Procedure
This rancid piece of post-mortal matter is the sludgiest, rawest and most direct of all the CD's tracks – so, naturally, it's my favorite. This hearkens all the way back to the very earliest Carcass with its simpler song structure, although there's a brief snippet of a very refined guitar solo. The vocals here are more moist than a hunk of freshly removed tumor. The track's title, by the way, alludes to a method of autopsy conceived of by a renowned clinical pathologist.
Expeditious Evisceratory Mishap
This doesn't differ too greatly from the previous track. I haven't heard music this morbid in a long time...not only lyrically but musically. Most death metal and grindcore bands today focus on anger and technicality, forgetting the essential sickness on which the genre was forged. Not so with County Medical Examiners and tunes like this demonstrate why.
Maturating Decompositional Gas
Here is more AMA-approved goregrind, delivering more thrashing, sinister corpsegristle. By now, the album is beginning to sound samey...but then, this was also a characteristic of Carcass.
Kaleidoscopic Malacia
"Malacia" is not a female rap star or an Asian archipelago, but rather a crippling softening of the bone. This song features a "tumbling" kind of riff mixed with that bulldozing grind we are familiar with. You just can't deny the musical tightness of the three medicos here...they don't miss a note. All in all, it's a fitting finish to this album of forensic foulness.
 
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