British grindcore pathfinders Carcass and Quebec technical death metallers Gorguts have been around so long, it's hard to believe they've made only six and five studio albums, respectively. Carcass formed in 1985 (originally calling themselves Disattack) and released their first full-length in 1988; Gorguts became a band in 1989 and debuted in 1991. But they've both taken long hiatuses. Carcass' new Surgical Steel is their first since the now erroneously titled Swansong in 1996; Gorguts' new Colored Sands is the first time they've recorded since From Wisdom to Hate in 2001. Carcass still have two original members in the band; in Gorguts, only guitarist-frontman Luc Lemay remains from early days.
Whether one's better than the other is for you to determine. On Surgical Steel, Carcass settle on life as a melodic death metal band -- a dryly conventional and even conservative one, as it turns out, roaring about how "The sun never sets/ The blood never dries," though willing to give texture and tune to the guitar when the mood strikes. Brief opener "1985" is downright lush, closer "Intensive Battery Brooding" has almost a hard rock groove, and "Noncompliance to ASTM F 899-12 Standard" is intriguingly structured to match its title.
Gorguts, meanwhile, come back gargling and grumbling, densely burying odd sounds and fancy progressions in the murk, growing evil laboratory organisms before your ears. Parts of "An Ocean of Wisdom" suggest Glenn Branca clanging in a monastery; "Forgotten Arrows" starts with spy-soundtrack guitar. And give or take "The Battle of Chamdo" -- a string-quartet instrumental for a horror movie -- the songs are all really long. That said, this mix starts out with selections from both bands' new albums, then tracks back across their careers, switching back and forth from there -- and undoubtedly leaving internal organs mangled along the way.