When I’m alone I’m a mad scientist and revel in misanthropy. People, I think to myself, are disgusting. Shuffling biological disasters who typically contribute little more to the world than carbon dioxide and fecal matter. Convulsing organic forms whose existence can scarcely be called living. Perhaps that’s part of the the appeal of horror movies and death metal. There’s a certain primal satisfaction to imagining the human form deconstructed into its basic biological building blocks. Oregon’s Lord Gore can probably relate to this feeling. Formed in 1998, the band’s five members have made careers out of creating repulsive fukkin metal, with their lineup consisting of current and former members of Engorged, Frightmare, Blood Freak, Weregoat, and Ritual Necromancy. Scalpels for Blind Surgeons is only the band’s third album and follows their lengthy hiatus from 2006 to 2017. Their 2002 debut The Autophagous Orgy and 2004’s Resickened were burly deathgrind heavily informed by Impetigo, complete with plenty of horror movie samples and thick meaty riffs. Scalpels is a different beast and in some ways even better.
By and large, Scalpels is a modern death metal album. One can hear echoes from a slew of other death metal bands but pinning down more prominent influences is tough. Most often I’m reminded of Tomb Mold in the way these songs incorporate fast, gooey tremolos that extend forth and writhe about like tendrils from some horrible gelatinous organism. Likewise, the warped melodies and brawny riffs that crop up in songs like “Lord of the Flies” and closer “Attack of the Stem Cell Junkies” call to mind Outer Heaven. The only real grindcore influence left is in the vocals, which range from mighty growls to phlegmy rasps to soupy bullfrog gurgles. They’re suitably ridiculous and add just the wild and perverse touch these songs need.
When it comes to the riffs, Scalpels is a veritable smorgasbord. Samples are kept to a minimum and thus these 43 minutes are absolutely packed with all manner of malevolent ideas that stream forth in songs which maintain only the slightest whiff of conventional structure. There’s a good amount of diversity and while the riffing isn’t always the most memorable, with repeat listens moments like the faux triumph of the tremolos in “Million Maggot March” begin to worm their way into one’s mind. It helps that standout moments are spread evenly throughout. Early highlight “Incubation Sickness” has a belligerent and punky pace that sets it apart and makes for an interesting counterpoint to the mucky guitars that drop later in the song. “Reborn in the Blood of My Enemies” has a prominent chorus propelled by screams of “Attack!” and “Destroy!” while my personal favorite “Daudiskegg” moves from tight and propulsive melodies to rushing chords that stream like blood from a punctured neck.
The production is modern and clean, with a meaty guitar tone that sounds like every carcass in a butcher shop being dropped at once. Sadly it’s also a bit loud and trebly for my taste. Likewise, while none of these 11 songs are bad, a few of them are less notable than the others. I wouldn’t have been upset if penultimate track “Enthenogenocide,” for example, was left in the body bag. Still, the sequencing of the album makes it easy to listen to in full and in all Lord Gore maintain an addictive energy with just enough catchiness to keep one engaged.
I don’t listen to a whole lot of modern death metal, but Scalpels for Blind Surgeons is an album I’m glad I heard. You can tell this was made by a bunch of diehard veterans who had plenty of riffs swirling in their heads and the know-how to make an album that simply works from front to back. The gory humor only adds to the sloppy fun. Scalpels is the type of death metal you stay up at night wishing for. With it, Lord Gore have emerged from incubation in grand fashion, delivering a slobbering and lively ode to blood, guts, and riffs. It’s an easy recommendation for anyone who likes the style and a bludgeoning reminder of how, in the end, we’re all just walking sacks of meat waiting for our time to rot.