Carcass Opera House, Toronto ON September 8

Carcass Opera House, Toronto ON September 8
Reunion concerts can be pretty shaky. Most bands reform under sad circumstances such as struggling to regain lost ground or from some crisis-laden ego boost, resulting in wishes that they just hadn’t bothered. In the case of grindcore progenitors Carcass, such was not the case. After 15 years of refusing to take a walk down memory lane, eventually the endless badgering of fans wore them down and they agreed to a number of international one-off gigs.

Still, the question as to whether or not Carcass would put their heart and soul into the event or throw out a few tunes nonchalantly loomed heavy, threatening to confirm these Liverpool boys as genre greats or a train wreck marring their legacy.

Apparently they understood the gravity of the situation. At least on this night, as other than a few more wrinkles and wider waistlines than their last Toronto gig almost two decades ago, in essence, Carcass were as tight and seamless as ever.

Ravaging through a set that smartly blanketed their most renowned albums from Reek Of Putrefaction through to Swansong, bassist Jeff Walker, guitarists Bill Steer and Mike Amott and drummer Daniel Erlandsson (filling in for original skinsman Ken Owen) were stunning in every aspect from dual guitar mastery and gurgling lyrical delivery to hammering drum patterns.

Walker was of particular note. Cool and confident, his voice was strong and gravelly; his dry humour was in full-force with plenty of self-deprecation and tongue-in-cheek slights towards organized religion and death metal as a whole. Completely out of context, hippie-esque Steer seemed genuinely happy at being able to perform such classic tracks as "Exhume To Consume,” "Excoriating Abdominal Emanation,” "Corporal Jigsore Quandary,” "No Love Lost,” "This Mortal Coil” and "Keep On Rotting In The Free World,” bouncing merrily about.

Entertaining albeit somewhat disturbing, Amott was clearly unable to shake his stage mannerisms with current day job Arch Enemy. Given he was the most energetic of the quartet yet some of his actions (preening to the crowd, et cetera) felt like automatic response directed at his typically younger fan base than the majority of 30-somethings in attendance. Still, his enthusiasm was admirable. Credit even goes to fill-in drummer Erlandsson who has clearly done his homework, performing beats written by Owen perfectly, although Owen’s inherently powerful, thunderous style was somewhat missed.

All in all, while this glimpse into the previous glory of Carcass confirmed their status as grindcore gurus, it was also a frustrating reminder that odds are this is the last we will hear from them. However, at least the final nail in the coffin was of high calibre; Walker and company were razor-sharp for men who have more in common with their name physically than musically these days.