Surgeon have always been bombastic, beautiful and self aware. Their latest offering, Beast Of Light, takes these core themes and evolves them into something greater. It gets behind the notion of otherworldly might that the band has for so long used to their advantage in order to cultivate the kind of epic, and quasi symphonic black metal record that can interest purists and Dimmu Borgir fans alike. From the first it's obvious that Surgeon are crafting their own brand of black metal. This goes a step beyond their peers, it has melodies and epic song constructions but also wonderfully harsh vocals along with some strong cleans. It understands the more demented sides of the black metal polemic whilst simultaneously showcasing the beauty of the genre. Surgeon are exciting to listen to: their music is full of all sorts of fanciful left turns and intricate ideas that showcase so much more going on beneath the surface. Surgeon have taken black metal to a whole new level here but kept the ferocity and demonic majesty that the genre was always meant to have.
Beast Of Light captures the imagination with rich soundscapes. Sure they may occasionally sound a bit too derivative of their musical forefathers but the band is still evolving. It's rare to find a group as fully realized and with compositions as strong as this one though. While the pumping synths and potent choruses aren't always my cup of tea Beast Of Light certainly hints at more grandiose ideas to come. My favorite moments are (fairly predictably) when they ease off the throttle a bit and allow the listener to relax into some more Agalloch-esque meditative sections. As a whole though there are a variety of potent emotions and ideas to examine on Beast Of Light, making it abundantly clear to even the casual fan that Surgeon enjoy picking apart all manner of black metal, both old and new. They have harnessed quite the beast here and while at times it falls out of control they generally do a pretty fantastic job of riding the snake into oblivion.
Nitpicking aside, Beast Of Light is a fascinating phenomenon. It takes up the mantle of old school symphonic black metal bands and adds a healthy, violent modern edge. There is something distinctly evil about the bands work here, it shows you that Surgeon are tapped into darker forces than many of their peers might acknowledge. They have torn apart common paradigms to unveil the twisted inner workings of the genre. While this doesn't always work out in their favor and the songwriting could still take a few steps forward it shows us that the band is full of potential and cognizant of the darkness they represent. Surgeon are going to burn brightly for years on end, this latest record is merely another step towards something greater. It's clear that the pieces of the puzzle are there, but watching them gradually lock together into something greater is going to be the true pleasure of following this band.