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Scar The Martyr - Scar The Martyr (Album Review)

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 Written by Alec Chillingworth

“Slipknot have three drummers; that's why it's all so fast.” Many a time has this phrase been uttered by uneducated mouths. While Shawn Crahan may have been there right at the inception of the Iowan behemoth, his main job on stage is to dick about on top of a metal keg. Slipknot's inhuman BPM count is provided almost entirely by man-machine Joey Jordison. Since rising to fame as part of the masked nine, he's gone on to drum with Korn, Ministry, and Satyricon among others. To call the man a workaholic is a gross understatement.

Given that his CV reads like an aspiring drummer's wet dream, Jordison could easily rest on his laurels. Instead, he's decided to gear up with a completely new band while taking a break from Slipknot. Comprising former members of Nine Inch Nails, Strapping Young Lad and Darkest Hour, Scar The Martyr is full of your favourite musicians. Given the sheer magnitude of talent involved, supergroup syndrome could be a symptom here: self-indulgent solo sections, pointless noodling, relying on past efforts to shift album sales.

Straight from the broody, distorted opening throes of Blood Host, anyone questioning the authenticity of this project will receive a smack square across the jaw. Packing a chug-heavy guitar section, the song is a perfect platform for Jordison's playing prowess. The man is an absolute powerhouse, laying down the primal foundations for vocalist Henry Derek Bonner. The majority of the riffs are ugly, downbeat affairs, with extra six-string duties being handled expertly by Kris Norris and Jed Simon.

Being a relatively unknown name, Bonner has to make an impression on this album. If he fails, he's just going to be the bloke who joined a load of famous people for a bit. Thankfully, his melodic crooning on the verses of Blood Host offer a slightly different flavour than people would be expecting; the gentle, almost sleek tone to his voice contrasts nicely with the repetitive racket going on behind him.

Of course, like most decent singers, Bonner doesn't just have one mode of attack. His blood-curdling barks within Soul Disintegration hark back to 'All Hope Is Gone'-era Slipknot, mixed with an unhealthy dose of Phil Anselmo, while sleazy vocal lines during Cruel Ocean and Mind's Eye nod towards Mike Patton as an influence. At points his heroes are somewhat apparent, but the man delivers his lines with such utter conviction and style that you can't help but be floored by his vocal range.

As with the vocals, the album isn't all on a single level. They're writing step-by-step moshpit anthems here, but they're not Five Finger Death Punch. The inclusion of Nine Inch Nails drummer/Marilyn Manson key-fingerer Chris Vrenna provides enough variation to satisfy those who want something more than meat and potatoes metal. Effigy Unborn and Dark Ages both boast danceable synth-lines reminiscent of 'Pretty Hate Machine'-era Nine Inch Nails, while epic album closer Last Night On Earth tinkers with flourishes of piano before the onslaught of punishing down-tuned riffs.

While the majority of the album screams for mainstream recognition, there are, unfortunately a few niggles. The overly lengthy tracks may put off those possessing short attention spans, while the sprawling, monolithic atmospherics dominating Last Night On Earth may have a similar effect. Other than that, Scar The Martyr deliver the goods.

This album isn't going to change your life. It's not 'The Blackening'. It's not 'The Shape Of Punk To Come'. It's not 'Master Of Puppets'. But it is an example of a musician doing what he loves, just because he loves doing it.

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