Pub date September 16, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW Besides creating one of the most ungainly acronyms in the English language, NWOBHM, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, galvanized a global infatuation with metal that lasted more than a decade. As the music pioneered by Motörhead, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest touched off an international powder keg, it lost its UK focus, along with nods to Tennyson and the kind of goofy patriotism exemplified by bands like Saxon.

Left behind by the mid-1980s was a younger generation of English musicians, roiling in the Margaret Thatcher–stirred urban cauldrons that produced metal’s earliest heroes, and disaffected by the commoditization of Maiden and Priest. By exhibiting an inexhaustible appetite for extreme music’s nascent movements and a talent for combining and improving on them, Liverpool’s Carcass began a second, newer wave of equally influential British heavy metal.

Along with their co-conspirators in Napalm Death, Carcass drew on thrash, hardcore, early death and black metal, and the abrasive sound of NYC post-punk band Swans to create a genre called "grindcore." Pushing the compositional potential of metal to its absolute limit, the band inspired countless followers to attempt similar feats of complicated, abstruse, yet relentlessly heavy songwriting.

The daunting power of their musical imaginations was perversely mirrored in their lyrics. Weaving stomach-turning tales of autopsy and disembowelment, Carcass’ anatomical knowledge was so thorough it led some to believe that they were doctors, or at least medical school dropouts. Despite a 13-year hiatus, the band has returned to its practice, supported by death and black metal luminaries that would not exist without them.

CARCASS With Rotten Sound, Suffocation, 1349, and Aborted. Fri/19, 8 p.m., $32.50. Grand Ballroom, Regency Center, 1290 Sutter, SF. (415) 673-5716,