Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scythe - Beware The Scythe

I don't know what it is about Scythe's Beware The Scythe but no matter how many times I try and listen to it, I just find myself wandering off. It's not that the album is bad - because it's not - I just find myself having a hard time paying attention past two or three songs. Maybe it's the genre, or rather blending of genres. It's a bit of thrash and a bit of black metal but moments are also quite rock and roll. It's what Midnight would sound like if Midnight wasn't so focused on speed metal. And if the riffs were more mediocre. I guess one of the closest comparisons of Scythe's style would something like Witchery though not their better two early albums like Dead Hot and Ready or Restless Dead. Scythe is closer to the less aggressive Symphony for the Devil. Never once do Scythe break out some of the really killer riffs though. At times Scythe launches into more blackened sections similar to the Czech Avenger but they don't provide enough opportunity for atmosphere to build either. It's a really difficult and middle-of-the-road style which has never really appealed to me. A lot of people may compare them to Aura Noir. It's appropriate, maybe, but there is no similarity in quality.

Album opener "The Iron Witch" sounds like two or three different bands at times, hinted at previously. The production is modern, crisp and well done and emphasizes the sharpness which Scythe might be aiming at with their riffs. In general, the thrashier riffs are cut-and-dry. There is no looseness. Everything is tighter than the center of a rubber band ball. The static guitar tone leaves plenty of room for the bass guitar to stand out. It's probably the best track on the album. "Mastermind" contains more give-and-take riffing; plodding series of chugs in a more call and response fashion. The back and forth is at times taxing on the nerves. Title track "Beware the Scythe," provides the first hint of experimentation and left-field inclusion when half way through the band jumps into a Fireball Ministry esque mid-tempo groove riff complete with Stoner Doom vocals and lead. One review I saw mentioned Black Label Society in this regard. That's a proper comparison as well. It's at this point where I usually feel the tug of my waning attention span which I've come to learn can be extremely short. It's strange that even though the songs include variations and different personalities, it's all very bland. The opening four tracks are great foundations of songs, but there is very little additional detail added to make repeated listenings justified.

The final five tracks pick up basically, where the first five tracks leave off, stylistically, however there seems to be more attention paid to detail at points. Some leads, overdubs and subtle melodic movements make these tracks more promising from the band. "Planet of the Humans" in particular shows some additional effort added with some atonal ringing guitars to contrast against the riffs. It's one of the better moments on the release but it's too late and too little. The rest of the track concludes with few notable moments. One of the more subtle issues with which the band struggles happens to be the syncopation prevalent in all their tracks. There is a general argumentative feel within all the riffs that, frankly is annoying. The prominence of this inert tough-guy rhythmic swell hidden behind the whole album really monotonizes and dulls the entire release. Scythe, should they find a way to channel that feel in measured restraint, could separate themselves in a more positive light. Some may argue that it adds some originality and definition to the band to separate them from everything else. Maybe. I just find it annoying when it's present in every song.

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