Well, I think it's likely to make it better with a brief historical introduction, so let's start with it:
In 1993 things began to change for Death Metal. Columbia and Epic acquired both Earache and Roadrunner, causing the genre to come out from the underground and trying to commercialise its musical offering. A lot of bands jumped in it with both feet, imagining to take advantage from the deal. Bands like OBITUARY, SEPULTURA, NAPALM DEATH, and ENTOMBED released albums that marked a change in their musical style, being far more approachable to the masses. This caused the loss of spontaneity and innovation by the whole Death-scene, which slowly faded out and died. CARCASS had the same fate on "Heartwork", with the only difference that their album was easily the best among all the records released that year, and one of the finest records ever.
Enough with history class, go on now.
"Heartwork" marks another giant leap into the band's musical progression. The change is already stated from the artwork, showing a sculpture by H.R. Giger; gone are the bleeding viscera and fermenting innards (got it?) of the previous albums. And also gone are the pathological lyrics CARCASS were infamous for. They've been replaced by deep thoughts dealing with the existential decay of mankind (the lyrics on "Blind Bleeding The Blind" are even inspired to the well-known Shakespeare's play "Macbeth"). All the lyrics have been written by Jeff, as usual, and although they aren't in the typical CARCASS style, in my opinion he again accomplished an excellent job.v The production is also good, in spite of the fact that Colin Richardson gave the record a smoother sound than "Necroticism", probably due to the aforementioned commercial requirement.
The music is a sort of Death Metal more melodic and accessible than the previous CARCASS-efforts, still heavy and fast, but also a tad reminiscent of the NWoBHM, with typical dual guitar parts which let you think of IRON MAIDEN gone Death. The song-writing is astonishing one more time, open, but not easy. Every song is structured on a solid rhythmic pattern of technical guitar riffs which opens the way to nifty tempo changes and amazing instrumental intricacies. The emphasis of this lies on the guitar-work, which is progressed further than "Necroticism", showing a more extensive lead-playing throughout the compositions. In fact, you can notice right from the start that the solos are mostly played in harmonized notes, while they were based on noise-playing on the previous albums. We also have a lot of impressive interludes and brilliant interplay by the two guitars, integrating each other on the main riffs.
The drumming is once again enormous, full of precise double-bass and quick footed tempo changes coupled with extremely intricate blastbeats. The vocals are a tad tame and reduced in regard to the past, in order to introduce the band to a larger audience (presumably in the States), I think. Anyway, they're still brutal and guttural enough to enjoy.
The album set a brand new fan-base for the English combo, gaining them an impressive amount of popularity, but it's glad to see the band made their choice still retaining a huge quality level (unlike the others), so who fuckin' cares? For sure the commercial element is present, but what the heck, this album kills and kills again.
Being the old-time CARCASS fan I was (am), I have to admit that the first time I listened to "Heartwork" I was taken aback, even a bit disappointed. But after a few listens, my opinion about it was radically changed. The hell with all the preconceived expectations, this is musical greatness.
One of the best Death Metal-records of all times, period.