Written by Kep
Neurectomy – Overwrought
> Technical/brutal death metal
> Releasing November 17
The Neurectomy promo sat in my inbox for what would constitute a surprising amount of time before I finally pulled the trigger and gave it a listen. On its face it was everything I could’ve wanted: face-melting techdeath, tracked at Joe Duplantier’s Silver Chord Studios with Gojira’s engineer Johann Meyer, mixed and mastered by Christian Donaldson (who’s produced for Beneath the Massacre, Suffocation, Despised Icon, and Ingested, among many others), and featuring John Longstreth of Origin on drums. It’s a recipe for technical/brutal death success if their ever was one, and yet I held back. Why? I think it was the aggressive “this band has John Longstreth!” PR push; a sort of fear that the Longstreth was all the project really had going for it, I guess.
But in the end, the presence of John Longstreth was indeed more than enough to get me to strap on the headphones, load up the promo, and give it a whirl. And holy hell, what a whirl it was.
Overwrought is a 32-minute tornado of absolute chaos and destruction, filled with far more technical prowess than you can appreciate in full through several listens. Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the influence of Origin is undeniable on this album, obviously in the drumming but also in the other instruments, and it’s a good thing. Longstreth is in as fine a form as ever, astonishingly fast kicks and snare hits ripping through the speakers along with his characteristic play on the cymbals and ripping tom fills. He fits like a glove with the guitars and bass (no idea who plays them—the non-Longstreth members aren’t named in the promo material), which fly around their fretboards in as frenetic a way as possible most of the time, barreling through the sort of wicked arpeggios and flying scalar passages that are as brutal as they are frantic. The technical polish across the breadth of the band’s playing is spot-on, and they always give you actual riffage to grab onto alongside the all those dizzying acrobatics.
If you like technical death of any sort, you’ll likely find bits of your favorite concepts here alongside the Origin-esque brutality and speed. Breathless whorls of frantic tapping a la Dying Fetus? Check. Quirky jazz-influenced rhythms and grotesquely off-kilter harmonies like Defeated Sanity? Neurectomy‘s got that too. Straight ahead bludgeoning that peels off into shred-adjacent arpeggios and gleamingly sharp-edged licks that’ll make you think of Beneath the Massacre. Meter-shifting asymmetrical chunk patterns that morph the riff framework over and over. Über-tight tremolo lines that drive viciously like an arrow into flesh. The only real aspect of modern techdeath they don’t pull from is the more progressive side of things, but that’s okay: part of what makes Overwrought a great listen is its focus and brevity. Neurectomy isn’t interested in wasting any of your time—the longest song on the album is just over four-and-a-half minutes, and there’s not a single bit of bloat to be found.
Relentless as the eight tracks are, the band does a good job of keeping things fun and a bit tongue-in-cheek. You won’t find anything intelligible in the vocals, of course—these being deep chesty growls and roars with plenty of power but little in the way of enunciation—but the music itself provides plenty of levity. Opener “Abducted for Research” and the subsequent “Culinary Cadaveric Art” set the table for this sort of songwriting, taking quick breaks from wild assault to drop into funny lurching trips, manic swing patterns, and downright funky slap bass grooves. I straight up chuckled at the cheeky waving guitars that open “Dolphin” and the silly upward-scooping pinches after the 2:30 mark. There’s a bewilderingly chromatic ascending line midway through the title track that almost feels like a parody of neo-classical work. The sheer amount of notes flying at you can be almost overwhelming, but you’ll find something new and fun to latch onto with every listen.
All in all, it’s pretty easy to see that my fear was unwarranted for Neurectomy’s debut record. John Longstreth is a dominant presence on Overwrought—as distinctive a style as it gets in this sort of music, and this preposterously technical shit is his bread and butter—but the rest of the band measure up and don’t leave me wanting. The brisk half-hour runtime is ideal, and the production is even more so. I do think the album blurs a bit in its second half, and any longer would’ve been pushing the listener’s limit, but there are no weak tracks to be found and the songwriting ranges from good to great. I’ve spun this album close to ten times already and will likely log even more listens once this review is live; it’s addictive and I find something new to love every time.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Expect Overwrought to take the techdeath world by storm when it arrives this Friday. There’s more than just a little to love here; Neurectomy has put together a collection of ripping tracks that will lay waste to your expectations, bowl you over with sheer ability, and impress you with some surprising songwriting depth. Put these inhuman riffs in your ears and get wild.