Review by Suzi H
First things first I suppose I should apologise for being so late to the review party with this one – the album came out in the UK way back at the end of September, and I’m only just getting to writing my thoughts on it down. If I’m honest, it’s because I’ve been listening to it repeatedly for the last three weeks and trying to construct something sensible to say about the entire thing and failing miserably.
Let’s do the history: Scar The Martyr are the brainchild of Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison and he’s been joined in his musical endeavor by Jed Simon (ex-Strapping Young Lad) and Kris Norris (Darkest Hour), vocalist Henry Derek and keysmeister Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails) . Joey did do the guitar, bass and drums lines on the records himself though, so I think you’re only going to get a glimpse at the sheer talent this little line up contains if you go to on of their live shows – they are hitting the UK In December!
So musically what are you in for with this album? Well it kicks of with a dark and twisty, scream ridden Intro. So far so good – it’s only a minute long and then WHAM! You get slammed straight into Dark Ages which is almost 7 minutes of heavy drums, a bass line of rage and some rather gorgeous vocals which alternate from clean melodies to some rather angst ridden screaming. It’s a very good start to an album which has a lot to live up to given who it’s creator is.
My Retribution continues in the same promising vein and is my favourite track from the album. It begins with some really heavy and classically metal guitars and then is joined by a fast paced and punchy drum line. I don’t want to make comparisons to Slipknot if I can help it – but man you can tell just how much Joey contributes to Slipknot listening to this album. The vocals are interesting- again there’s a contrast between the very clean and melodic and then some dirty growling. I’m actually put in mind a lot of Scar Symmetry – the sounds are very different but stylistically the comparison is deserved.
Soul Disintegration is the single from album and starts very differently to the previous tracks- it begins with a single melody and then layers in guitars and drums. It’s again, absolutely stunning as a track, and I was so sold on the album by the time I got to it – there’s still ten more tracks to go, but even if they were all rubbish on the basis of the three full length songs in so far this album would walk away with a solid three star review. Check out the guitars and if you tell me you feel nothing, I’d like to posit that you are in fact some sort of soulless creature.
Cruel Ocean is a little industrial in it’s drum riffage but OH! it’s brilliant – this bad boy needs to be a regular on your industrial metal night play lists. It isn’t a strictly industrial track but it’s a bit heavy, a bit dance’y and a lot dirty. The melodies throughout this album are insane – a lot of bands will either be heavy or melodic and not many manage to pull off both AND add a clarity of vocal that’s well I want to say ‘orgasmic’ but that might be a bit strong. This track isn’t especially heavy but it is very good.
Blood Host however is a heavy track – don’t be fooled into thinking the vocals let down the instrumental- get a minute in and young Henry is screaming his heart out, and well he should be. This is another track where it’s easy to make a comparison to Slipknot- but this is a grown up and more selectively angry Slipknot. Sign of the Omeneye is a very weird 43 seconds of filler that just doesn’t quite fit, but does mark a change of pace and it leads into Anatomy of Erinyes which is very good. This is one of those tracks you should be lying down in a dark room to appreciate. I like those sort of tracks, so, so far, so happy!
Prayer for Prey follows on from the pace change that was set earlier and it’s very melodic – it’s all proggy guitars and heavy melody. Whilst the first half of the album is the half I’d be adding to DJ Playlists (Someone PLEASE let me DJ a club night :D), this is the half I’d recommend lying back, turning up very loudly and just being carried along to – it’s not ‘easy listening’ but it’s also not headbanging, dance floor filling stuff either. You’ll see exactly what I mean after you’ve listened to White Nights In a Day Room.
Effigy Unborn is again a little bit on the dance-y side, if by that you understand you can dance to it, not that it will suddenly appear in the Top 40. It’s also got some mighty weird lyrics. but is a nice enjoyable track with more than a hint of Nine Inch Nails about it. Which shouldn’t be a surprise given the presence of Mr Vrenna in the line up.
By Never Forgive, Never Forget, I’m thinking that I’m reaching the end of my listening patience. Don’t get me wrong this is a brilliant album, but it has 14 tracks and most of them are topping 6 minutes long. Of course that moment of fatigue is beaten by Minds Eye which is the metal equivalent of someone running into a quiet room where you are sleeping and shouting BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Finally we come to Last Night on Earth which is a rather ominous finisher for the album – it’s 8:29 long and whilst it’s brilliant it does go on a bit.
Overall, this is an excellent album – it’s enjoyable and each track is different enough that it doesn’t feel same-y. Some of the tracks are a bit long which isn’t a problem if your attention span is better than mine! I’m happy to be giving this album a rather respectable 4 stars and hopefully we’ll see a few more UK dates from them next year and I can let you all know what the live experience is like!