The noise that 200 Stab Wounds have been making is far from subtle. The Cleveland, Ohio death metal outfit are relatively new to the scene – having formed in 2020 – but have been rattling the underground. Their impressive EP Piles of Festering Decomposition bursts with ferocious sounding riffs and pummeling presentation. Compared to other horror-loving death metal acts, 200 Stab Wounds sets itself apart in creating compositions with technical range. Not to the level that one could associate them as a tech death band, but in each of the twists and turns each track offers, there comes a refreshing variety to that of the true and tested horror death metal formula. With the band’s official debut LP Slave to the Scalpel, 200 Stab Wounds not only further extend that excellent quality, but also deliver an unnerving rush of heaviness.
The genre of brutal slam lends itself to a lot of technical repetition, which over time can turn exhilarating instrumentation into monotonous sound. 200 Stab Wounds are by no means a slam band, but in how they use the genre’s sonic traits, they craft an experience that maintains an aura of menace throughout. Rather than just bash and shred away on their instruments, the band constructs compositions that not only go hard, but fuel the record’s overall dark presentation. Catchy rhythms, intricate shifts in time signature and tone, along with playful uses of tempo and sonic intensity make it so going from track to track, the listener is constantly being fueled with adrenaline.
The drum work and revving guitar rhythm at the beginning of “Skin Milk” are a small taste for how delightfully exhilarating the instrumentation is to become. Throughout the song, the band builds upon their performance, upping and slowing down the intensity of their playing throughout – allowing for tempo to create a hysteric appeal. “Tow Rope Around the Throat” sees the band carrying forth a similar rhythm, but also expands upon the band’s musical template with more fluctuation in drumming patterns and rhythmic shifts. The vocals provide a grueling, somewhat mucus-like texture to tracks; in “Itty Bitty Pieces,” it feels as if the words are clinging onto the guitar rhythm, the two working together to present this icky vibe.
The technical work throughout the record isn’t anything extreme or out there, but it is essential in keeping the material engaging. In blending multiple forms of heavy music, there is no obnoxious repetitiveness or clashing of concepts – the craft behind this work is topnotch. Through fun rhythms, moments of melody, and throwing in random (welcomed) surprises in technical flair, these nine tracks keep listeners on their toes and anticipating what will come next.
Slave to the Scalpel is not just a killer record, but also prominently highlights the talents of 200 Stab Wounds. As a young band within the death metal scene, this is an act to keep an eye out for. The fresh brutality the band brings into their instrumentation – keeping the elements of brutal slam interesting through intricate technicality – offers a death metal experience that thrills and chills.