Released: 2013, Sevared Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Death metal is a tough gig to try and make a name for oneself. In a scene that is ultra-cluttered with bands both excellent and not so excellent, it’s often a challenge to differentiate your band amongst the pack. This is why Boston’s scalpel doesn’t try to do that on their debut full length SORROW AND SKIN. What Scalpel does is simply pay homage to the imagery and sound created by the death metal luminaries that preceded them, and it’s superb. Honing their chops around traditional/old school blood n’ guts death metal with excursions into technical and progressive territories, the end result is a splendid menagerie of the grotesque.
If forced to draw parallels to other bands, I’d say that Scalpel blends the frenzied energy and precision of Cannibal Corpse with the melodic, guttural pummel of Dying Fetus, and the rhythmic, percussive chug of latter day Suffocation. And yes, it’s pretty f@#king relentless. Standout cuts are the opening “Ripe” with its atonal opening and a volley of crushing riffs, “The Black Juices” that recalls the dissonance and off-key melodicism of Autopsy, and “Sentinels of Severed Flesh” which is simply 100% hyper fast death grind. But in all honesty, I never found myself skipping ahead in the album due to lack of interest in any particular track. The collective 10 tracks on the album don’t really break any new ground in the genre, but the stylistic execution is really something to be admired and has kept me coming back for repeated listens.
If you’re jonesing for a fix of quality death metal or are in the mood to push the boundaries of your metal extremities, Scalpel is a fine band to spend some time with. SORROW AND SKIN is an impressive debut that doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. So accept it for what it is – an excellent platter of death metal that exists only to sate the rabid fans that the band serves to please. SORROW AND SKIN is available now through Sevared Records.