This is the second effort by the best Grind-band ever, and it shows several differences from the debut, though the attitude appears to be the same. First and foremost, the production is tenfold better than "Reek Of Putrefaction" (the album is produced for the first time by Colin Richardson, who will work together with the band for years), but is still far from good.
The musicianship has also been improved. In fact, Bill Steer begins to show the traces of the guitar-god he truly his, Jeff Walker's bass-work is finally (barely) audible and Ken Owen plays so better in comparison with "Reek...", that he even seems another drummer (especially his new style of double-bass-drumming has completely replaced the single step-beats of the previous release).
Above all, you can notice that "Symphonies Of Sickness" shows a definite progression in the band's skill of composition. The tracks are still relatively simple, but definitely longer, much more elaborated and well played. But there's an aspect I wish to make clear: I've heard many people say that the song-writing here is a thousand times better than on "Reek". Well, I strongly disagree with them. I think the point here is: the song-writing is much more EVIDENT than on "Reek". I mean, the structures and the range of dynamics on "Reek" were underlying the tracks, and the record needed several listens to be understood, while on "Symphonies" they're on the forefront so you can comprehend them just on first listen. But maybe I digress. Anyway, this is the perfect follow-up to "Reek", 'cos it keeps the footsteps of the previous album not denying its achievement, but at the same time establish the identity of the CARCASS-sound, getting absolutely rid of every NAPALM DEATH-comparison. In my opinion, the album takes the Grindcore-genre to a quality level none has ever matched. It proves that this musical style can grow and redefine their limits staying true to its conceptual goal.
With this album the band moved towards Death Metal, but the speed and the brutality of their musical onslaught left every other Death-band far beyond. The tracks are pretty varied, with slower tempo changes, too, and some guitar harmonies, but remain the most fast, heavy and brutal stuff you could hear around in 1989. The vocals are the sickest ever and superbly complement the music, as they already did on "Reek".
The lyrics are sensibly the same of the previous album, dealing with physical abominations, gore and degenerate sickness, and using a lot of medical terms you're unable to understand without a dictionary. It's also still present a tongue-in-cheek sort of way behind the lyrics, showing a dark humorous mood you can't attribute to any other extreme band, at least in those years.
This is the record of a band capable of progressing its sound avoiding all the clichés and trends, without losing a bit of their leadership as innovators in heavy music.
With their first masterpiece, a lot of bands followed their example, but "Symphonies Of Sickness" demonstrates without the shade of a doubt that CARCASS themselves were already ahead of them all.
Note: As for "Reek Of Putrefaction", in 1996 Earache re-issued this record with a crappy censored cover art, and I simply despise the idea.