After a couple albums of the more melodic power metal variety I was kind of in the mood for something different. Enter SCENT OF REMAINS, who thanks to my good friend Shauna (GO BRONCOS!) I was able to check out their latest release Under A Blackened Sky. This is a heavy, heavy band filled with guitars, growls, and general ass-kickery (Shut up, it’s a word!), and they are metal as fuck, no doubt about it. They mean business on each and every track, and mercifully it’s not all breakdowns and open notes, which can get real annoying real fast. Vocalist Michael Yates owns the mic and sings from the heart about being yourself and fighting for what you believe in.
On tracks like “Exhale, Oblivion” he employs some higher screams as well. On others like the opener “The Forfeit” the whole band comes in like a sledgehammer announcing their arrival with a thud. Right from the start you can hear every punching bass note and every thump of the kick drum in a very balanced mix, something some of these bands forget the importance of all too often. You can be technical, but without that “oomph!” you’re like goddamn video game music. I was impressed with “Hold You Under” also, with its brooding, moody beginning then savage riff attack. Yates’ singing of “If the choice were mine” on the chorus is something else, and as I said, color me impressed.
There’s more of that on “From Ash We Rise” which is another one that jumped off the disc at first listen and wound up getting repeat spins. The doom element is certainly prevalent at the start of “BTK” before it assumes more of an upbeat groove that in a weird way reminded me of a cross between KING DIAMOND’S ghostly screeches on his THEM album and early AMON AMARTH. If that sounds crazy, it’s probably because I’M crazy. Oh, and did I mention the fucking solo? Good show, old boy!
Immediately following this is “Wakefield”, a poignant acoustic number where Yates just sings. No boom-boom-boom, no growling, no nothin’. Just him and a guitar, some simple harmonies behind him, and the results are a welcome change, because it is so unexpected; that’s what makes it work. Next thing you know, you’re being kicked into submission again by the pummeling of “This Present Darkness” which had me going pretty good, as did closer “Unholy”. All of a sudden, here comes the ambitious “Parasite” that for the first two minutes goes one way, and then it shifts gears and heads in the opposite direction, something I always love to see bands do. That alone made this instantly memorable.
SCENT OF REMAINS lead guitarist, Herb Himes, sums up the bands philosophy like this: “It’s not about being the heaviest band, the most extreme band, the fastest band or having the most individually talented shredders in our band. We don’t care about any of that. It’s about working together as a band, writing great heavy songs that people will remember, playing with feeling, and giving the fans an incredible show each time you step on the stage.”
He forgot to mention the part about SCENT OF REMAINS being here to stay, people, but that’s OK. This is a band you’re gonna be hearing a lot more of, trust me. Under A Blackened Sky is out January 21 via Pavement Entertainment. Be sure and get yours, and don’t forget to comment after you’re done listening; I wanna know how you guys like it.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Parasite”, “From Ash We Rise”, “Wakefield”, “This Present Darkness”, “Hold You Under”