Friday, October 18, 2013

Scythe "Subterranean Steel"

"You shouldn't judge a book by its cover" is a well-worn saying and it often also applies to albums.  There are covers out there with artwork that looks like the artist has only just graduated beyond drawing stick figures and some of these albums are regarded as classics due to the music.  The cover of Chicago band Scythe lends the trio the appearance of a black metal Manowar due to the over the top poses.  Strictly labeling Scythe as black metal is doing the band a slight disservice as the music contains elements of traditional, thrash and death metal.

The Chicago trio put the dirtier side of metal through a blender in"Leather Aggressor" but a filthy black metal heart pumps strongly.  The tempo is high-paced and with clear audible growled vocals, then the pace completely halts and the muddy sound black metal bands are renowned for disappears for what seems like a few seconds and a clear crunchy guitar assaults the listener only to vanish into a murky pit where an absolute pummeling is a necessity.    A strong backbone is provided in "Monarch" due to a simple drumbeat which lets the guitars take over and cast a hellish atmosphere.  If you've ever wondered what a slow moving bulldozer to the cranium feels like then get a dose of the title track although it will move quickly at some unknown point and the blast-beats will replace heavy machinery as you fall heavier into the muddy bog.  Scythe have  a perfect song title in "The Grunting Dead" and the song can only be described as blackened thrash.  The thrash sneaks up on you sometimes like on "The Bray Beast", which has a few riffs that are reminiscent of Exodus but probably at the pace those guys should be playing these days since they're nearing retirement age.  

It's difficult not to wonder if the title "Beyond the Northwoods" was suggested by someone with a lisp as the song takes in black metal and the guitars and drums edge of the sort of thrash metal that the Bay Area was renowned for in the eighties although a group of angry bumblebees make sure black metal gets the last word.  Oddly "Nights of Terror" reminds me of Wall of Silents but I highly doubt that the trio who recorded this song are aware of that band.  Rock, punk, thrash, death and black metal are all put into a concrete mixer  and the concoction is  similar cross-genres sound with crunching guitar leads.

There are a few times on the album that it is difficult to tell if a song has finished and another one has started.  Without any clean singing or breakdowns and gang choruses Subterranean Steel convincingly combine  the black, thrash and black metal sub-genres and keep it dirty and raw.  Clicking on the reverb nation link below is highly recommended as a taster.


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