Thursday, April 5, 2007

Scariot - 'Momentum Shift'

I listen to a fair variety of metal music, but like any metalhead I have my checklist of elements I like to hear in my favourite kind of metal. Something about as heavy as, say, Megadeth's Rust In Peace or the later Death albums, as technical as them too, with great solos and riffs and kickass drumming, but not so polished that it starts sounding more like prog, melodic without sounding like a damn national anthem, moshworthy but groovy too and emotional without compromising on the aggression. To make it clearer, my favourite metal band right now is probably Nevermore. And Scariot seems to have a lot of the same strengths as Nevermore, including, on this album, an added bonus for a sometime-bassist like me - Steve DiGiorgio!

The songs on this album move effortlessly from really thrashy and heavy riffs with pounding double bass to melodic, almost symphonically dramatic passages. The drums lockstep with the guitar rhythms when reguired, and ride roughshod over them at other times, which is something metal drums need to do sometimes, you know? The guitar work is equally convincing from the precise, rhythmically exciting rhythm work to the melodic, flowing and imaginative lead work. The vocals are great as well, clean and soaring without being cheesy and predictable like that fellow in Hammerfall. And when I'd be happy to settle for a good thud and maybe some clanky cut-through on bass, with everything else so awesome, there's Steve DiGiorgio cooking up a storm underneath it all!

The mini-epic 'Forming Humans' is probably my favourite at the moment, packing in some really impressive shifts and melodies in just over 5 minutes. 'Sickening World' contains perhaps my favourite lyrical statement (guess what it is!) and a kickass cover of Death's 'Symbolic' manages to do for that song what Death once did for Judas Priest's 'Painkiller', and makes their musical lineage pretty clear, as if there were any doubt. I never did buy into the opportunist Schuldiner worship that accompanied his illness and sad demise, but he certainly was a great metal songwriter and musician, and and I'm sure he'd approve of Scariot's take on his song. They do that rarest of things - make the vocals of the original more melodic without totally defanging the vocal lines. Good work.

I understand that this album was released after considerable line-up changes. I'd certainly like to hear more by this line-up - and investigate Scariot's previous discography on the strength of this album, which is about what you'd want the first album you hear by a band to do.

The Eiderdown-Stuffing Bottomline: Thrashy progressive metal that stands alongside the relatively traditionally metallic likes of Nevermore, rather than the more arty flights of Opeth. An album of real power and artistry, with a certified lunatic on bass guitar. In not so many words, bring it on!

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