Released: 2017, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Scalpel’s METHODS TO DELUSION is the sound of a good band becoming great. Their 2013 debut SORROW AND SKIN was a solid exercise in traditional death metal, but METHODS TO DELUSION ups the ante considerably. A more complex and technically challenging record with that expands upon the band’s already worthy songwriting chops? Sure, it’s all of those things. But quite frankly, it’s just f@#king brutal.
With a constant battery of riffs serving as an undercurrent, METHODS TO DELUSION wades closer towards the Comatose/Sevared Records end of the death metal spectrum than its predecessor. But caveman death metal this is not; tracks like “Labors of Loathing” and “Feeding the Worm” ride extraterrestrial time signatures while dueling dissonant harmonies surf across the rhythmic spasms. “The Woodsman Part II” embraces some Macabre-like discordant bursts and may be the first death metal song to feature a slide guitar solo. Album opener “The Cleaner” is a more straightforward premise, but one that’s layered in waves of slick guitar shred that gives it an altogether different veneer, and the choppy pulsations of “Brooding in the Groom” recall early-2000’s Azagthoth.
Did I mention that the guitar work across the album is exceptional? The guitar work across the album is exceptional; there are plenty of the traditional death metal runs that you’d expect on an album like this, but there’s also a surplus of Andy LaRocque influenced melodic wizardry layered into each tune. The fellas in Scalpel were no slouches on SORROW AND SKIN, but the time in between records appears to have been well spent honing their respective crafts.
Despite its unassuming exterior, there’s nothing ordinary or pedestrian about METHODS TO DELUSION. Aside from a snare drum that occasionally sounds like a commercial grade spaghetti pot and an album cover that looks like a junior high Photoshop project, Scalpel has delivered a near flawless record. Hopefully Scalpel finds a distributor that can show this album the love and support it deserves.