When Scalpel first debuted back in 2013 with Sorrow and Skin, I thought it was a decent album. It was a little bit common-fare as far as death metal was concerned, but with some interesting bells and whistles. But after that, the band just sort of fizzled out, as many others do. Unexpectedly, a new release surfaced this year from the Massachusetts quartet and its nothing short of amazing. Mark my words, whatever these guys decided to get into, it definitely benefitted them. I also noticed that the disc was closed with a purple sticker that had some weird sigil looking thing on the top of it. So whatever ind of magic that entailed, it definitely worked for them. I could tell from the album art alone, that this was going to be a vastly different experience than what I had experienced prior and it seems more like a meeting of Gorguts and 7H Target, especially in the drumming. It literally feels like drummer Chip Fay took a cue from the extremely raucous Russian BDM act and as you might expect, that level of kit abuse brought this act up from relatively decent to fucking amazing in just an album’s time. The disc itself is just thirty minutes long and features a weird little throwaway in “Interdelude” which could have been funneled into another one of the tracks later in the album, but it’s nothing to complain about. There’s enough of that Cannibal Corpse/Deicide/early Cryptopsy influenced sound to keep you going, especially with the layered vocal approach that guitarists Taylor Brennan and Manny Egbert perform rather furiously within the performance. There are also some proggy bits, which don’t really come in until the disc’s second track “Labors Of Loathing.” While these might sand down the heaviness, they’re necessary for building structure and I’d much rather hear a disc where the focus is songwriting and not just sheer brutality. This disc probably took a great deal of time to write and structure formulaically, sometimes feeling like a mathematics equation with a punch. But with that punch also comes more than a few guitar solos, which of course I appreciate.
I’ve listened to the album at least three times now, and it certainly isn’t the kind of thing that gets old fast. There are still some production issues here and there, as I feel that some of the leads and solos could be a bit louder in the mix. But what band doesn’t suffer from production issues these days? The whole of the album comes off very raw and organic, bringing with it the kind of warmth that classic death metal discs offered in the past. Also, I have to hand it to them for that rockabilly influenced solo piece on “The Woodsman Pt.II” It’s just not the kind of thing that you’d ever hear on a record of this type and I’m so glad that these guys actually jumped out of their own skins and threw the old box away to create something that really stands out on it’s own. I honestly don’t think that there is a bad track on this album, and might even call it one of the best death metal albums I’ve heard all year. Even if Methods To Delusion isn’t at the very top, I know for sure that it sits very high up there. You owe it to yourself to give this one a spin, as these guys are currently in a more proficient spot than over half of the musicians in the BDM scene right now. That includes acts signed to major labels, who are again, focused on brutality rather than songwriting. Anyone can write a loud and brutal song, but to write a song that sticks with you – that’s an art. Scalpel certainly have that going for them right now, with me anxiously wondering where they’ll be heading in the future with this new and more dynamic sound. The Grim Tower highly recommends Scalpel’s Methods To Delusion.
(10 Tracks, 29:00)