Despite the lashings of mordant humour present in the lyrics of Carnivore, it would be wrong – so very wrong – to write this band off as mere comedy metal fodder. As noted in the extensive interview with drummer Louis Beateaux (the last living survivor of the band) which comprise the liner notes of this slightly expanded reissue of the album, the band were deadly serious about what they did, and if their intentionally ludicrous world view and stage wear pointed to the veracity of views otherwise, then that was a problem for the listener themselves to grapple with.

Listening back now, nearly forty years after the fact, with a mind full of knowledge about Peter Steele and his way of going about things, it’s impossible to view Carnivore as the logical successors to Bad News or Spinal Tap. It is possible, however, to see them as a pretty good synthesis of Venom and Black Flag, or even the precursors of Stormtroopers of Death, but comedy genii viewing the world through a post-modern prism of irony and snark? Not so much.

Beateaux drummed for Agnostic Front too, and his excellent drumming provides the springboard for everything that is good here, most notably the NYHC mayhem of the demo version of USA for USA featured here as a bonus. Of the album tracks proper, Male Supremacy acts as a pretty big signpost as to where Steele would be heading when he eventually got his shit together with Type O Negative; Closing track World Wars III & IV showed a band more than willing to balance their overall primitivism with a bit of progression thrown into the mix – not many bands were doing ten minute epics in 1985 as I recall, whilst the boneheaded Manowar-meets-Venom biker anthem Legion of Doom, with Keith Alexander‘s churning rifferama kicking up a real storm, showed the band in it’s most natural light – raw, certainly, but definitely not as out of control as they’d have liked you to think…

In perspective, it was still possible to shock straight society in 1985 simply by wearing your hair long and saying out loud what most of ‘polite’ society was already thinking; such a stunt would be impossible to pull now and, as such, Carnivore has become a rather wonderful little anachronism, and a reminder of a time more innocent.

Carnivore is out now.