Surgery - Living Dead

Slovakia’s Surgery come shambling forward like a George Romero zombie with their third full length album entitled “Living Dead.” While their previous works were a bit more abstract and universal, this album seems directed towards a love for horror, zombies, and just good gory 80s and 90s films. Those who like Death Metal albums tight, short, and nostalgic with tons of groove with find Surgery a fun, yet brutal listen. This four piece avoids the typical ‘lets go as hard and loud as possible’ route and instead aim for some tasteful, mid paced chugging approaches that are similar to that of Six Feet Under, Dismember, and even certain Bloodbath tracks. While there isn’t too much variation between them, it is clear that the band’s formula works well for them as it is enjoyable to listen to. They’ve been going since the early 2000s and with some lineup changes, still sound like they are going strong.

Production-wise the music is pretty clear so one can hear everything. The glory of most ‘mid paced Death Metal’ is one get to enjoy all the pieces and it is easy to absorb, especially for newcomers. Nothing is too fast or too slow or too jarring.  From the throaty vocal bellows to the rumbling bass such as on ‘Last Chance’ there’s just a good balance of that guttural side with the more melodic, catchy part that Groove and Hardcore bands crank out. The music is anthemic and memorable. While not gore and distortion soaked, one can’t help but feel like they are drowning in a sea of undead bodies (or moshing with them) when hearing a track like ‘Living Dead.’ It takes a little time to build but them takes on like a mid paced train that just shoots along at enjoyable speed. While it doesn’t wow the listener, it also won’t make them cringe. New vocalist Tomas Hudac is clear in his delivery yet a bit one sided (much like the former Blood Red Throne vocalist) so don’t expect much in the way of higher pitched scream, guttural grunts or gurgles throughout, but rather just that satisfactory growl that can be heard as he snarls about zombies. Guitarist Rado who has been with the band since the beginning still cranks some memorable riffs with bassist Hrdza rumbling along his flow. The drumming from Peter is thick and somewhat hollow, but varied versus the slower caveman plow of some of the filthier Death Metal out there or doesn’t overdo it with trying to be like Flo from Cryptopsy. All around the band’s work is solid.

There are some Melodeath influences in the vein of early In Flames with a track like ‘Zombie Influence’ or ‘Terror at Night’ with some layered vocals but the band mostly stays in their normal confines of the ‘general groove laden Death Metal room,’ touching on other sub genres from Death n’ Roll to Old School to Melodeath, but not quite straying too far from the core of the sound. While this keeps them rooted, it doesn’t make for any one track really to stand out which makes the whole album sound slightly generic. It is clear and enjoyable and newer fans of Death Metal will enjoy it, but after a while until the more Thrash inspired ‘Death in You’ shows up with touches of 2000s Deicide, a lot of the delivery of the other tracks jus tends to sound the same. For those who want things to pick up or do something different a bit the final track ‘A Day to Die’ is both a mix of fast and slow, breaking away from the usual mid paced chug and aiming for faster riffs or a slow intro to draw one in before jumping to the faster parts to mix things up, but by them the album is done and it is a bit late. Like the previous effort, “Living Dead” tends to stay on a one track mind, but Surgery does a better job at least trying to change things up a bit. Fans who have followed them up to this point will feel this another of the same cut of meat from Death Metal for them, and they’ll be fine with that. For those who want a new place to start, “Living Dead” is probably the band’s most solid album though and worth checking out if they have not heard it from Darker Than Darkness Records.

3.5 / 5 STARS

1. Living Dead
2. Zombie Influence
3. Violence
4. Intruders From Outer Space
5. Last Chance
6. Death In You
7. Terror At Night
8. A Day To Die