I just never gave anything past Heartwork a chance. When I discovered Carcass back in 1996, I wasn't as receptive to the harsh vocals and definitely not into anything grind. I discovered Wake up and Smell the Carcass on some long ago metal site. They had clips of the songs and I dug the guitar harmonies and tolerated the vocals.
After that, I picked up Swansong and dug the melodic Death metal. I remember thinking that this was going to be the new sound of metal going forward. Picked up Heartwork and didn't like it as well as the other two. Never went back any further.
My tastes have changed since then. I love Opeth and Wintersun and Cormorant and I know I wouldn't have 17 years ago.
I checked out a couple of the older songs out on youtube and they weren't bad. I'll have to check more out.
Btw, the new album kicks ass. My favorite tracks are The Master Butcher's Apron, Noncompliance and Captive Bolt Pistol.
2/23: Metal Church