Scarred – Scarred


Luxembourg is famous for being a country my next-door neighbour would like to visit one day. If there were any justice in the world it would also be famous for the magnificent and innovative music of progressive death metal quintet, Scarred. It’s no exaggeration to say we’d all be declaring the band’s latest record an instant classic if Gojira produced something to this standard on their next release.

Okay, you’ve heard it all before. A band receive much hype and then fade away after five years. Yet Scarred never had the limelight and deserve hyping up if nobody else will do it for them. Think of the excellent albums from The Ocean, Haken and Black Crown Initiate last year, and rub your hands together. Scarred are right there with them and look set to make 2021 their own along with Interloper and Spiritbox.

The first real track, ‘Mirage’, is a scorcher yet remains determined to avoid a conventional death metal riff for the entirety of its 06:34 seconds, instead preferring a post-hardcore pattern of natural harmonics and pick scrapes. The drum work is sensational in its precision and finesse, like Sean Reinert or Mario Duplantier at their best. And the vocals… Wow! ‘Mirage’ and ‘A.D… Something’ are like listening to a young Devin Townsend in his Strapping Young Lad (SYL) days – so aggressive and harsh in the delivery yet so clear in the pronunciation and raspy articulation. SYL are perhaps the best reference point for the listener. The music has that demented euphoria of the band’s 2005 classic Alien album and touches upon the lyrical themes of insanity and neurosis throughout its fifty-six minutes of metallic sophistication.

But Scarred are a Benelux band, so it also makes sense to compare them with Dutch prog metal legends, Textures. Indeed, their 2016 classic, Phenotype, is something the band draw from on this self-titled effort, none more so than on the exquisite instrumental brilliance of ‘In Silent Darkness’, with its ocean spray of semi-distorted guitar arpeggios and finger-plucking bass notes. The gradual build-up into a chugging mid-tempo rhythm of neck-bobbing beats gives way to interludes of atmospheric black metal and dissonant chord formations that veer into the avant-garde for inspiration. How interesting, then, that they push the boundaries even further on ‘A.H.a.l.a’ and infuse Devin Townsend’s restless creativity with Tool’s bubbling moments of introspection from the Lateralus era. A captivating stream-of-consciousness lullaby in an African(?) lingua franca over the top of crunchy palm-muted downstrokes only adds to the band’s love of experimentation.

Like Canadian tech metal sensations, Without Mercy, these Benelux boys never run out of ideas or genres to incorporate into their death metal framework. ‘Dance of the Giants’ thrives on a precision blade riff and neo-classical waltz like Veil of Maya at their finest. ‘Petrichor’ is stunning. No wonder this album took four years to write. You don’t dash off a composition as mystical and melodious as this in a couple of weeks, not when it has such an effervescent ferocity at its core. The Gojira influence is most apparent here, like the raw and emotive lament of Magma’s most poignant moments. New vocalist, Yann Dalscheid, shows on this track that his register expands far beyond fry screams and growls into clean harmonies and throat-heavy anthems. It’s a remarkable performance.

This may be their third album but now is the time for Scarred to dazzle. Season of Mist are on board as the worldwide distributor, and the band have every chance of winning the acclaim this opus deserves if metal’s foremost record label is behind them. Grab your wallet and buy this masterpiece!

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 22/01/2021

Record Label: Klonosphere Records

Standout tracks: A.D… Something, Nothing Instead, Dance of the Giants

Suggested Further Listening: Textures – Phenotype (2016), Strapping Young Lad – Alien (2005), Without Mercy – Seismic (2020)