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Scalpel: Sorrow and Skin

I really like the way this band's promo materials describe the music: "Death metal is a visceral art that is dependent upon the extreme dedication of its loyal fans." It's the use of the word "visceral" that stands out to me. It's simple, really. Death metal, like good horror movies, should make the same kind of impact as a punch in the gut. Yes, it hurts, but it's an art that depends on pushing as hard as possible against traditional notions of beauty. For those that don't appreciate death metal, it seems hard to comprehend a large body of people listening to this style of music for enjoyment. What makes it exciting to me is the way death metal represents a sustained effort to discover new ways of thinking about music and the arts and things like beauty, value, and purpose. Like other forms of extreme art, death metal makes a real impact, one that shakes people up.

Scalpel's album does a good job of bringing these heavy, visceral, components right to the front. The thing I liked about this album is that it isn't trying to do too much in terms of shaking up the genre. They aren't insisting that they are now and different and exciting. Instead, they are new and heavy and brutal. The music here just pounds away, usually at the very deepest registers. From start to finish, though, this is music for death metal fans, especially those who prefer bands like Carcass, Suffocation, and Death (early Death anyway). The good news is that it works. It doesn't always make for easy listening, but there's enough power going on in tracks like "Skullscraper," "Mincemasters," "Sorrow and Skin," and a few others to keep things interesting. "Sorrow and Skin" actually has some nicely played acoustic guitar on it. This is the track that reminded me most of Death. The last track—"The Exterminator—Human Slaw" is just static for over 8 minutes. I didn't let it run to the end, but I'm pretty sure it's really all static. The point? Who knows, but it is either a reminder that noise is all around us or that, given the title, it's a suggestion that we may not be worth all that much. If it's a mistake, then I have more Scalpel to look forward to.

This is a good album. For fans of very heavy death metal, it should do nicely in the collection.

Track Listing:
1. Ripe
2. Gutmulch
3. The Woodsman
4. The Black Juices
5. Skullscraper
6. Mincemaster
7. Sentinels of Human Flesh
8. Sorrow and Skin
9. Unspeakable
10. The Exterminator—Human Slaw

Added: November 27th 2013
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1482
Language: english

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