ORGANECTOMY – Nail Below Nail (2022)REVIEW

Extradimensional, unknowable beings scourging the human mind with an unseen hand, bent on extreme torture and salivating out of every orifice. Our pitiless invaders from beyond delight in death as apex sadistic thralls, bloodlusted by the scrambling and confused masses swelling all around them. Monoliths erupt in cataclysmic, unearthly surge as they hammer deep into metropolitan asphalt sending the population skittering mad with fear, hollering in mortifying pain from an unknown force before tremendous scenes of bursting gore consume ’em all ad nauseam. The psychology of fear, the horror of the unknown and the meaty purge of our species by way of extra-terrestrial hominid hunters greets us in view of Christchurch, New Zealand-based slamming brutal death metal quintet Organectomy‘s indomitably tough third full-length album here at peak killing season mid-year. ‘Nail Below Nail‘ ain’t rocket science when you’re in the midst of its senses-mashing cull, it kicks as hard or harder than the biggest bulldogs of slam today, but more importantly it finds their membership working up a bigger, better storm of stress together, resulting in a record decidedly worthy of the momentum built over the course of the last decade or so.

Formed in 2010 as a somewhat more serious vision of slam beyond (then) vocalist (now) bassist Tyler Jordan‘s solo project Scat Hammer, the original quartet had kicked into gear while they were basically sophomores in high school and hot for the muddy sort of moshable chug-bops skilling-up within the worldwide brutal death metal arena around that time. Their first couple of demos sounded as busted as you’d expect but it was their second (‘Impale the Bitch‘, 2011) that’d managed a basic skillset and the right nutso sort of affect you need to kick around the insular largely online slam ‘scene’ and stand out. Outrageous as that shit was they’d not really pulled off anything fit for human consumption ’til their first EP (‘At the Mercy of the Devine‘, 2014) hit a decent technical standard and foundered a par for the time slamming brutal death sound, catching that momentum and following up right away with ‘Promo‘ (2015) wherein then co-vocalist Alex Paul (Rendered Helpless) took over core vocal duties, more-or-less marking the point where Organectomy had found the bones of their increasingly modern sound, still hard as nails but keeping up with the of-the-moment scrub of slam. They weren’t there yet but folks were definitely starting to notice their push for something bigger at that point.

The peak of Organectomy‘s formative efforts had arrived when they’d self released their debut full-length (‘Domain of the Wretched‘, 2017), an elaborate sort of science fictive concept album not unusual for slam/brutal death nowadays which’d attracted the attention of Unique Leader whom picked it up for wider release, optioning future releases. Production and exposure had made the difference for the band at that point though the eh, Devourment-esque clip of their guitar work had hit a peak, or, a point of crucial transformation wherein machined precision and a looser amalgamation of multifarious sub-genre tics fused with the enthused slamming brutal death ideas still hitting their sound — it’d made for a maximalist chugfest that strayed, though very slightly, from the pit in a good way. ‘Existential Disconnect‘ (2019) reeled their sound back into its core impact with an approach more clearly chipping away at the brutal, hardest-hitting standards set by groups like Cephalotripsy and Abominable Putridity rhythmically speaking and leaning into what I’d consider nods to straight brutal death metal, not far from Analepsy‘s general vibe which has been consistently not prone to mess around with goof or gimmickry. Vocal performances likewise had become more of an impressive focal point for the band and that second album remains the best feature of Paul‘s performances outside of his own solo project. From my point of view that second album was Organectomy‘s first major record, the one with substantial riffs, and the main reason to psych-up for ‘Nail Below Nail‘ beyond the fine-ass Pär Olofsson album artwork.

Whereas those past releases had been the product of a core songwriting duo in most cases ‘Nail Below Nail‘ is suggested as a more democratically spread, involved process with input from the lot of the quintet as they’d pieced the album together. What that’d produced is a record that definitely feels like it had that many more big, boss level brutal death enjoyer tentacles picking at its skeleton ’til the forms’d reached an enormous, gnarled and calcified fractal burst of modern brutal death metal. Not that they’d kicked off their slam-bro boots for a second and overcomplicated the whole deal, in fact the opposite seems to have happened as simpler bulldozer grooves are now even more of a key part of the band’s modus, Organectomy‘ve nonetheless managed a steady hand in giving those slug-thundered slam lurches a purpose within ever-tightening teched-up arrangements, never having been too directly involved in jerky deathcore bustle. The clobbered mood of the full listen benefits, and ultimately stems from this sensical wield of such an enormous and modern hi-fi brutal death sound as we push from the grotesque roar-in of “Concrete“, which serves to remind us that they’re still a mosh metal crew, on through “The Third Mutation” which sort of punctuates the initial rush of the first half of the album with a slower, slam groove that dominates the rub of the piece.

You’ll have gotten their gig at that point as a complete assault of the senses, murderously attacked crank the bass m8 kinda stuff which still has -some- chill to spare in terms of breaking up the merciless, anxietous percussive hammering of 2000’s brutal death with all manner of grooved-over devolutionary traits developed since said crucial decade. The title track (“Nail Below Nail”) shoves us right into what I’d consider a more typical example of what Organectomy are aiming for on this record, an economy of notes which speaks less to a ‘tasteful’ ideation of slam and more to more direct and easily readable rhythmic movement set to excite the body into convulsions. In the moment, casually experiencing the punishing crunch of the full album pieces like this don’t interrupt the solid brutal death read of it all, drawing some attention toward tech, mosh, and slam-happy movement. When analyzed directly in search of elaborate rhythmic phrasing, the riffs themselves, and the greater narrative of the album ‘Nail Below Nail‘ doesn’t necessarily read as more than a blunt-edged hammer upon dulled ears. “The Third Mutation” is especially heinous in this regard, almost sounding like they’d taken a page out of labelmates Bound of Fear in sourcing a big, blown out hammer of noise to create linear unthinking –core clank but as we press on through the details and take a look at each individual song on the album beyond the mood and modus isn’t so fixated on that one headspace, and it becomes a pit-centered bout on an album which never really leaves the desired brutal death ring.

“Ulcerborne” is the first sort of uptick in atmospheric, at-all dynamic presentation from the band on ‘Nail Below Nail‘ beyond the opening punishment and from my point of view this is where we find Organectomy‘s ghost peering out from the killing machine, a moment which lands a bit like the more recent stuff from labelmates Disentombed as it floats in. I’m sure there is an elaborate lyrical concept attached to this album and this seems to be a crucial sort of halfway point purposefully punctuated by one of the longer, more impressive pieces on the album but I’ve no real clue just yet what all that entails this time around. Even if Side B does get a scourger to kick off the flipside “Breeding Chaos” comes with a technical, snaking sense of rhythm that reflects a subtle change of tone as we press into the second half of the experience. Shoulders remain loose and the riffing purely percussive in its abusive, turret-fired slap but it feels as if the leads start to fire off more often in sliming up those bigger grooves, as if they’d woken up a third guitarist for songs like “Entranced by Calamity” before we’re back to the biggest, baddest slam band chest puffing on through “Entrapped Savagery” and the king-kong ballsy “Malicious Contortions”.

I’m not saying you’ll be falling out of your gamer chair if you’re not a fan of slamming brutal death metal but, moreso that Organectomy continue to be one of few bands able to sell the thrill of the apex chug life to just about anyone interested in all-senses-engaged modern brutal death music. They do so without any cheap, attention starved attempts to be rad in the process and really let the record and its athletic performances do the punching-up for them. I had a blast sitting with this album for its pure entertainment value and no doubt that’ll prove even more engaging in the future if they’ve matched the lyrical concepts found on the past two records. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Nail Below Nail
LABEL(S):Unique Leader Records
RELEASE DATE:July 8th, 2022

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