I hate to start off by being a Negative Nancy, but past the halfway point of 2018, I can’t squash the feeling that the year has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far when considering the plethora of metal releases that have dropped. Sure there’s been standouts and some genuinely very good to great albums, but these have been in short supply when stacked up against the sheer weight of albums that have filtered through the Angry Metal Promo Pit. Of course, there’s plenty of time for the year to take an upward turn and blow us all away, and I for one am hoping the quality of death metal albums gets cranked up as the year progresses. Spain’s Nasty Surgeons aren’t about to turn the tide when it comes to top-notch metal in 2018, with their old school brand of gory death-grind and Carcass worship, but on their second LP, can these rusty scalpel and bone saw wielding dudes craft an entertaining platter of splatter to pass the time?
Listeners expecting more than they should from the style will be disappointed, as Nasty Surgeons certainly don’t dabble in innovative practices nor do they have many surprises up their bloodstained lab coat sleeves. Instead, they rip through 11 tracks of no-frills, no-nonsense, grisly death-grind, with their tongues firmly planted in rotten cheeks. It’s largely derivative, dumb fun, executed with a decent degree of old-school charm and musical proficiency. The songs generally blur by in a noisy maelstrom of blast beats, crusty thrash rhythms, hack-sawing riffs and guttural thrust. Infectious Stench has the basic ingredients for a freewheeling good time, but do they leave a stench worth inhaling across an album’s worth of material?
Sometimes metal such as this does just enough to tip it into the positive side of the scales. However, Nasty Surgeons sit in a frustrating limbo between disposable but ultimately fun entertainment and forgettable afterthought. The album’s lack of distinction and memorability in the song-writing derails the smattering of enjoyable riffs and occasional worthy morsel contained within the efficient time-frame, which feels slightly overlong due to the faceless brutality and monotonous elements that creep in. Thankfully, Infectious Stench has a vibrant sense of urgency and a feisty approach that gives the impression that these guys are truly committed and dedicated to their craft.
To be fair, this ain’t all that bad, it’s just not all that exciting either. The musicianship has a certain unhinged edge which suits the material well, while the robust slash and thrash assault and old school shreddage of the title track finds the band delivering a mildly enjoyable kick. Moments like these are sadly few and far between, with the bulk of the songs delivering gnarly, energized bursts but not really sinking in, though the urgent, noisy blast of “In Peaces” is another pleasant exception. I particularly like it when guitarists’ Ramón Mur and Gonzalo Dalle spice their thrashy death-grind roots with offsetting melodic sensibilities and good old-fashioned wailing solos. These elements come together particularly well on “Subdural Haematoma.”
Nasty Surgeons is a band having a lot of fun rehashing their influences into a barrel of death-grind fun. Unfortunately, Infectious Stench is high on empty calories and low on substance, providng bursts of sugar rush adrenaline but struggling to leave lasting impressions or insatiable urges to return. Mileage may vary for death-grind diehards but Nasty Surgeons are unlikely to find a spot on my regular rotation. Personally, I’m happy sticking to old school Carcass, Impaled and Exhumed for my reliable fix of the style.