A Collection of Depravation
posted on 5/2012 By:
A Collection Of Depravation rounds up most of General Surgery’s post-reactivation EPs and splits, along with assorted other gurgling goodies for the de(a)dicated fan. Relapse recently reissued the band’s semi-classic 1991 Necrology EP with some bonus demo material from the days before then, and Depravation acts as something of a companion piece to that earlier expanded offering by pulling together its scattered sources in one thirty-song set. Wrapped up herein are the tracks from splits with The County Medical Examiners, Filth and Machetazo, plus some demos and other unreleased songs from their two full-lengths, as well as covers of Xysma, Carnage, Repulsion and (not surprisingly) Carcass. (Strangely, the Collection isn’t complete – it omits their half of the 2009 split with Butcher ABC.)
Of course, the presence of a Carcass tune isn’t shocking because General Surgery began in 1988 as a tribute to those Liverpudlian giants, originally designed as a cover vehicle and then soon moving toward original material, but nevertheless still borrowing wholesale the musical and lyrical style of Reek Of Putrefaction. As the band moved forward, the Reek-ing influence tapered off, and as a time-release snapshot across a decade, Collection shows the band in transition, starting out more in line with scuzzy goregrind and ending up with a greater technical scope, a more refined approach. Y’know, kinda like Carcass did…
The earliest material here is taken from the split with The County Medical Examiners, and though it’s both the most roughshod and the most blatantly borrowed part of Depravation, it possesses the most character. The guitars are thick and distorted to the point of fuzz, where bits of the riffs become indistinguishable from the general wash, but Andreas Eriksson’s bass sits nicely and gnarly beneath – his tone perfectly filthy and that tonality lending shape to the fuzzy guitars above. Grant McWilliams’ vocals gurgle and growl in suitable goregrind fashion, the alternately high and low twin-toned attack that defines the sub-genre.
It’s a bloody good place to start for a Carcass clone, but then the band got better, the production sharper, the riffs more complicated (though that’s only something of an assumption, since the earlier ones were hard to discern). And in the transition, something got lost – the band’s charm somehow receded, and while these later offerings are far from bad, they’re lacking in the filth and grit that helped make earlier General Surgery so fun, even as it wasn’t anything approaching original. Or perhaps especially because it wasn’t…
The covers are all done with the expected reverence, and each gets the sharp General Surgery production, that modern goregrind razor’s edge sheen. Carcass’ “Empathological Necroticism” fits perfectly, of course, and of the others, their take on Carnage’s “The Day Man Lost” is most interesting. (Side note: That band featured both General Surgery founder and Dismember singer Matti Karki and later Carcass / Arch Enemy guitarist Michael Amott.) The demos of one song each from Left Hand Pathology and Corpus In Extremis (“Fulguration” and “Deadhouse,” respectively) are what they seem – demos, nothing special – and the remainder of the unissued material doesn’t stand out too much in either direction. There are re-recordings of two of the earlier tracks – “Lab Rat” and “Pre-Bisectal Corrosive Immersion,” both redone in 2008, eight years after their initial – but neither possesses the raw charm of the original.
By nature, these types of compilations are “for the fans” affairs – a casual fan or a neophyte would still be happy with Necrology and maybe Left Hand Pathology, and they certainly wouldn’t need demos and outtakes from any point in the General Surgery timeline. Longtime fans will be happy with the one-stop shopping Depravation provides, although of the collected EPs, a full six tracks also appear on Left Hand Pathology, so the material isn’t all as rare as it seems. Nevertheless, General Surgery is a respectable outfit, even as their whole approach is secondhand, and there’s nothing here that’s anything less than competent, though only about half of Collection rivals the band’s other and better efforts.
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6/21/2011 General Surgery
Corpus In Extremis: Analysing Necrotici
4/7/2009 General Surgery
Left Hand Pathology