PHARMACIST “Flourishing Extremities on Unspoiled Mental Grounds”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Where on Earth do I start with this one? How about this...record of the year?

The band CARCASS has inspired a ton of other metal bands over the years. There used to be quite a flourishing scene of bands imitating the gruesome grind of their first two albums. And you can say that arguably the entire melodic death metal scene was kickstarted by “Necroticism: Descanting the Insalubrious” and its followup “Heartwork”. I will be honest...”Necroticism...” is in my opinion the greatest death metal album ever recorded.

Now we have PHARMACIST and what this band has done is almost beyond description. For they have taken the style created on “Necroticism...” to the next level. The band has actually been quite active, but this release on Hell’s Headbangers is my first encounter with them. I’m going to spend a fortune trying to reattach my jaw to my skull after hearing “Flourishing Extremities...”. This is a riff factory that never quits, that makes the recent CARCASS comeback albums sound simple-minded in comparison. It is tribute and amplification at the same time.

“Accelerating Suppuration” grabs your attention immediately with a slamming, forceful attack. About two minutes in, the real fun begins, as PHARMACIST starts throwing riff after riff at you. And they all interlock so smoothly, so perfectly that it takes your breath away. We also get great shredding leads in the vein of prime CARCASS. There’s a tasty bass workout towards the end that leads to a kind of cool, phased guitar section before things end with the same battering ram that started the song.

There’s a kind of great feeling of “swing” that finds its way into most tracks at some point...a rhythm that will have you shaking your head. The drumming on this album is also off the hook...the guy is great not only with pure skin beating, but also coming up with neat tricks on cymbals and even triangle that give a jazzy aura to the music. “Necromorph” and “The Great Contractor” slow things down and hit with maximum crunch...yes, the sound is extremely CARCASS-like, but things never get stale. There’s always another great hook or clever time change around the corner.

Only the brief acoustic interlude “Peroxide Engagement” slows things up for less than a minute. The vocals also follow the CARCASS pattern of harsh rasps intertwining with rough grunts. I do have to admit there are some riffs which are REALLY too close to comfort to the CARCASS originals, yet they don’t drag the music down. The complex title track and final, almost instrumental “Nursery Aesthetics” show PHARMACIST at their jamming best, throwing hook after hook at you along with searing lead work and intriguing drum twists.

This is just a mesmerizing example of a band that has taken a classic sound and expanded on it, creating their own classic in the process. Not much more to say except if you take a trip to this PHARMACIST, you better get a lot of ibuprofen because your neck is gonna be real sore. Album of 2022 for me so far…