I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I am usually NOT a fan of side projects from people in established bands. More often than not it’s a bloated mess, serving only to cater to that particular member’s ego, or weird musical tastes that no one else really gets. So, I had some trepidation regarding Joey Jordison of Slipknot’s band Scar the Martyr, especially since I hated Murderdolls with a passion. But instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, Joey and company stick to heavy rock/metal territory, and the results are pretty damn good, for the most part.
One of the great things about them is having Chris Vrenna of NIN on keyboards. He really has a flair for arrangements, and this is most evident on “Cruel Ocean”, my favorite song right from jump, and “Dark Ages” the first song after the intro. This really jump starts the album and gives you hope that this is gonna be a badass record start to finish. Well, almost. But we’ll get to that. Jed Simon’s and Kris Norris’ riffs on “My Retribution” are outstanding, and relative newcomer Henry Derek has some serious vocal chops, going back and forth from a deep melodic tone to a scream effortlessly. “Prayer For Prey” is almost all harsh singing, and some quality dual harmony leads for the first minute. Another winner!
Once again, Vrenna’s keys provide the musical canvas for the band to paint “Soul Disintegration” on before the first misstep occurs. “Blood Host” was NOT one of my favorite songs, and at nearly seven minutes, it’s just too much. Not to mention the fact that it sounds like a Slipknot throwaway. I also wasn’t a fan of “White Nights In a Day Room”. I get that they were going for something dark and moody. Nice idea, but poor execution. Reminded me of H.I.M., and not one of the songs I like, either. “Anatomy of Erinyes” is a nice rebound, however. It’s got a biting riff, vocals with attitude, and just flat out rocks. The industrial vibe to “Effigy Unborn” also makes this one a standout. Everything about it just clicks.
The guitars on “Never Forgive Never Forget” sound like they could have been written in any glorious metal time period. This was definitely my second favorite track after “Ocean”, and serves as a great one-two punch with “Mind’s Eye”. This is a straight up rocker, and sounds like it would be a hell of a drinkin’ song. Alas, the good times have to end. I don’t know what possessed Joey and Co. to close this album with the overly long (8:32) and all over the place “Last Night On Earth”. When the music is good, song length means nothing, but when it’s not great, those eight minutes can feel like an hour. That was the problem with the other two I didn’t like, also.
I really think 12 songs was a bit too much for this record. That said, the nine songs I liked, I REALLY liked, and I would recommend it just for that. Plus, the lush arrangements are hauntingly beautiful at times, and the overall mood of the album makes this a great Halloween listen for sure.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Cruel Ocean”, “Never Forgive Never Forget”, “Mind’s Eye”, “Prayer For Prey”, “Effigy Unborn”