Friday, February 15, 2013

Surgeon: Chemical Reign

Shockingly, Not Tech-Death

As far as I’m concerned, Surgeon came out of nowhere. As I write this, the Philly band doesn’t even have a Metal Archives entry. But apparently these unknowns were promising enough to attract the attention of Steve Albini, who lent his talents to the recording process for a prior EP. Debut LP Chemical Reign is my introduction to the band.

I hadn’t read much of the press material before giving this a listen, but I have to say I was shocked when I pressed “play.” Ignore the band’s name, the album name, and the album art. Surgeon has nothing to do with technical death metal, or death metal at all. This is pure heavy metal, in a modern vein. They inhabit that rare space that could attract rock radio attention as well as a good share of the trve among us. I know that’s true because I can’t get these songs out of my head.

The only thing you really need to know about it is right there. If you have an open mind and you love a catchy metal tune, you can enjoy Chemical Reign. It’s mid-paced, with catchy choruses that can soar (“Deadly Are the Words”), riffs and solos that are just enough to keep it on the “metal” side of the dividing line, and a couple near-ballads at the end of the record. The vocals sound a bit like Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi, but on occasion I detect a bit of Gavin What’s-his-name from Bush (“Hamburger Factory”). They have a tendency toward layering the chorus vocals for effect, and in this case I approve.

Give it a shot, and if you’re humming it in your head six hours from now then you’ll know what to do.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars



  1. I had a similar thing happen to me when speaking with a woman wearing a band shirt with a death/thrash metal font, logo, and skulls. "What band is that?" I asked, but instead of being surprised to discover a cool heavy metal band it was Tegan and Sara. :(

  2. Yeah, I've seen the same thing a couple times with different things. One I believe was a skateboard company.