SurgeryHead – Garbage Day

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As many NRW readers may have noticed, while I love all retrowave music, my tastes do tend toward the darker end of the genre’s spectrum… and toward its fringes. That’s why I wanted so badly to review this set of tracks, and I’m very pleased to be doing so. SurgeryHead (Emmet Kiernan) is a lone wolf hailing from Ireland, and has been around for several years… he’s made his way onto various compilations, but operates around the rim of the retrowave scene; his style is a blend of retrowave and heavier elements like EDM and industrial. This shows through clearly in Garbage Day, a collection of music that doesn’t let up for a moment and will chill you to the bone. I spoke briefly with SurgeryHead via SoundCloud message, and he wanted me to tell you all: he did this all with freeware. “I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging, but I want to do my part to eliminate the myth that you have to pay big money to get adequate sound,” he wrote. I’d be inclined to think he’s proven that point.


Sprinkled amongst the beastly beats and dark, gravelly saw waves are samples and dialogue from classic horror movies. There’s nothing “happy” about this at all, but if you’re into some straight-nasty dance beats and brutal sounds, this will make you very happy indeed. “Corpse Monger” is a standout track, with a steady, quick death-march beat and some great dialogue/narration samples. It will have you swinging your hatchet! “Pit Face” is equally brutal and efficient; ever-so-slightly “lighter” in parts than other tracks on the album, it still delivers blunt force trauma, with some well-executed melodies woven in to boot. “Bikefist” and “Real Hard Rain” wind down the set, but don’t mistake them for romance or beach music! They hit HARD. You will be bobbing your head if this is your bag.


I gladly give SurgeryHead’s “Garbage Day” eight out of ten. I’ll admit to a strong bias toward this type of stuff, and it may not be for every retrowave fan, but if you’re creepy and gruesome like me, you’ll fall in love with this little mutant monstrosity of an album.


Album ReviewsBryan Eddy