It’s sometimes surprising just how much time a lot of metal musicians seem to have on their hands. It’s not uncommon to see some of them playing in upwards of a dozen bands at the same time. When you get a few musicians that are that dedicated and that immersed in the overall culture, you know that you’re going to get a release that is focused—it’s providing a particular outlet for these seemingly overworked musicians. Cincinnati, Ohio’s Surgikill are one such outlet for Stevo do Caixao and Ash Thomas (who just released Shed the Skin). The band allows them to get their gore on while sticking to a Repulsion meets Demigod sort of canvas.
Thematically, the band wears their ideas on their sleeve, or in this case, the cover of the album. Their music reflects their post-apocalyptic, horror movie and revenge style lyrics. In fact, most members of the band provide vocals at times allowing for a diversely horrifying experience. At times they sing together creating a death-laden call and response. They are, if nothing else, consistent on this point.
Surgikill are not afraid of things like bringing speed. As on “Psychopathic Awakenings” the track contains blast beats, harsh razor-like vocals and false breakdowns featuring a heavy double bass. In stark contract, the following track, “Black Angel Assassin” is more of a riff-based tune harshly contrasting, harmonized dual vocals. That track is a full-bore ahead type of track—termites burrowing into a piece of rotted pine. Flying ahead with an Autopsy-like grasp on horror and gore, “Black Angel Assassin” represents Surgikill’s most catchy track.
Tracks like “Alchemy Death Queen” are more two-beat death metal. Guitars lurch forward spitting riffs that descend into twisted chord progressions. Guitar breaks and drum fills herald the oncoming of blastbeats and double bass sections. Throughout which the vocals adjust accordingly—swirling around the guitar stylings and adding ambiance and terror whenever they bleed through. Even the odd guitar solo makes an appearance here showing the brutal talent and speed with which the band can play.
It’s no secret that 2016 has been a killer year for death metal. Even many of the black metal releases have had some connection to the deathier side of things. Because of such, a release like Sanguinary Revelations can easily get lost in the shuffle. That’s because it doesn’t break any fresh ground. The album doesn’t experiment or progress. Rather, it’s just solid-as-a-rock death metal. The most interesting aspect of their production is the vocals. As mentioned, they are constantly being layered with four of the six members contributing to the mix. The band’s ear for contrasting vocals and harmonized despair is their unique layer in the spoiled onion of death metal.
Band’s like Surgikill will always be a fun outlet for overworked musicians. They will always provide a place for those compositions that just never fit their main project. For example, Surgikill was able to record “Planet of the Vampires,” the last song that Stevo do Caixao ever worked on with Impetigo thus resurrecting the monster. Yet, while they provide plenty of fun for the musicians, it’s album like Sanguinary Revelations that will quickly be replaced in the fast-paced world of social media by something more inventive and groundbreaking. Yet, those of us still sitting here in faded t-shirts, clutching the statues of Dave Grave will listen and never forget. For Surgikill fulfills that pure need to connect to our roots. To listen to music that remains as it always was and always has been and thus always should be.
Now get off my lawn.