Organectomy are a death metal band from Christchurch, New Zealand. Their first full-length album, Domain of the Wretched, was released independently in December 2017, and re-released by the Unique Leader label in February 2018. The follow-up, Existential Disconnect, is out now.
Death metal has many subgenres and styles, and brutal death metal — the style Organectomy plays — is one of the most fascinating. It’s a concussive, low-end-fixated music. The guitars are tuned down to the point that a bassist is mostly superfluous, and the drums are programmed or triggered so that they have the ground-shaking whomp of hip-hop beats. The tempos are frequently slower than old-school death metal, too, for additional impact. The band names and song titles are often a source of negative attention from outsiders, because they tend toward grotesque and violent imagery. But the way the vocals are delivered — often sounding more like a gurgling toilet than a human throat — renders that moot.
Organectomy‘s compositions (“songs” feels like the wrong word) are extremely heavy, built out of extreme low-end rumbles, bursts of distorted and pinched-off guitar, and drums that hit like hammers. They speed up and slow down, occasionally allowing all the instruments but one to drop away, and they punch hard. They do more than just beat the listener into submission, though. The opening track on Domain of the Wretched, “Eons of Unyielding Darkness,” begins with delicately picked guitar, treated to sound like a transmission from a distant satellite. When the full band comes chugging in, at the piece’s halfway point, it has that much more impact after the delay.
Existential Disconnect begins with a small but witty gesture: vocalist Alex Paul emits a tiny cough and clears his throat, before the music goes off like a bomb. For any listener who’s ever wondered how brutal death metal singers do it (since attempting it in the privacy of the bedroom or the shower can cause hoarseness and coughing fits after a line or two), hearing Paul prep himself for the coming onslaught is a nice reminder that yes, this is music made by people, however mechanistic and digitally tuned-up it may sound.
The longest track on Existential Disconnect, the 6:15 “No Solace in Ascendance,” trudges along, chewing up the earth like a bulldozer in first gear. Periodically, all the instruments but the guitar drop away before coming back like a dubstep bass drop, and at about the four-minute mark, it slows down like the recording itself is warping. Guitarist Sam McRobert ends the track with an extended, mournful guitar solo that’s like a poison gas cloud floating across a devastated landscape.
Two guest vocalists appear on the album, but it’s impossible to tell them from each other, or Paul. Diogo Santana of Analepsy is heard on “Catastrophic Intent,” while Matti Way of Abominable Putridity (whose 2012 album The Anomalies of Artificial Origin is a high-water mark in this genre) is on “Unending Regrowth.” The two-part “Where Pantheons Lie” suite is more surprising; the first track, “Malfeasance,” is a dark, drifting cloud of hostile atmosphere, almost a ritualistic chant set to painfully slow doom riffs and mechanistic drum barrages; it’s almost reminiscent of Chaos Echoes‘ Transient or the darker moments of Wormed‘s Exodromos. The second half of the suite, “Conviction,” is extremely fast, almost thrashy, the explosive outburst the previous four minutes were the buildup to.
Brutal death metal’s post-human precision and relatively limited sonic palette makes it an acquired taste for sure, but not everything is for everyone. If you’re a fan of the genre, Organectomy are a band you’ve absolutely got to have on your radar. Existential Disconnect is an improvement on its predecessor, but only slightly; both their albums are must-hear.
— Phil Freeman