Okay, first off, what a great name. Seriously, SurgeryHead is such a cool name for an artist, and it goes along perfectly with the kind of music the dude makes. In line with the darkest and most visceral end of retrowave, SurgeryHead’s music combines bassy, aggressive synthesizers, pounding drums, an EDM-like approach to a track’s movement towards fruition, and spooky horror movie samples for something that combines the grim, cyber-wasteland atmosphere of S U R V I V E and the thumping, soaring climaxes of Carpenter Brut into a creation entirely its own.
If you’ve played either of the Hotline Miami games, you know what the score is here: pulsing analogue synths and drums fall in lock-step with sweeping melodic lines to make a stunning high-low dynamic that keeps the mind divided and the ears interested. SurgeryHead, though, tends to play around far more with the bass frequencies, drawing from dubstep and club EDM for dirty, low-frequency sounds that only offer small stabs of higher notes to pierce through the visceral, gory soundscapes of vibrating, omnipresent bass. It’s an addicting, dark, wonderful play on retrowave’s typical tendencies, and makes his music stand out in a rising tide of mediocrity. (Seriously: the genre is exploding, and it’s bringing a wave of artists that all sound the same. Not that I’m not happy the scene is growing, but jeez, it’s starting to take a lot to stand out.) It’s rousing, blood-pumping, head-bobbing music that manages to keep moving forward constantly.
It’s also fucking loud. Seriously, the mix is enormous – bass notes throb and squirm while warbling melodies writhe, twisting overhead, and the drums are powerful enough to shake foundations and blast buildings apart. The production fits the music perfectly; it all becomes this intoxicating, undeniably rhythmic assault on the audience, the energy of which can neither be ignored or denied in any capacity.
In short, if you’ve been looking for something that’s as dark and moody as any black metal album and as vibrantly gory and schlocky as classic death metal, but has a contemporary, electronic package around it, look no further than SurgeryHead. This is about as evil and grim as anything can get while still being appropriate to shake your ass to, and in the end, isn’t that what we all need?