Welcome back, SCANNER. It seems like forever since their seminal speed/power album, Hypertrace, came out in 1988. Unfortunately, after their second release, Terminal Earth, the band went into a very, very long period of mediocrity – like 25 years worth of mediocrity.
Fast forward to 2015, and SCANNER has a new album The Judgement, out now on Massacre Records. The band seems to have learned a couple of lessons from the three weak albums that filled the interim. Did they learn enough? Probably not, but baby steps. The songwriting, musically, is definitely much improved and very solid. Is it groundbreaking? Not at all. The sound is much more in line with the classic era of speed metal than the newer speedy power, which is just fine with me. The mix is a little weak and uneven in some places (especially with the bass and drums), but overall, this is a nice solid album with good traditional speed heritage.
Lyrically, I am almost speechless: “Time has come to wake up/I am bugged life is a slut/My boss a nag what a mess/Like a prisoner caught in a trap” I’ll let you enjoy that for a moment.
Okay – so we’re not getting Shakespeare. We’ll ignore that, because a great singer can make almost any words just completely kick ass, which is the other weakness to this album. Efthimios Ioannidis is a really good vocalist, but I don’t know that he’s a great fit here. He can nail a lot of the high pitched shrieks (although sometimes he seems to lose a little control at extremes), but overall, his vocals are kind of bland and not very inspiring – there just really aren’t any vocal hooks to match all of the riffs.
Overall, it’s not a bad album, but if you’re a diehard SCANNER fan and were expecting another Hypertrace or Terminal Earth, go ahead and start sobbing, because this is not it. It’s a nice throwback to the era of the emergence of speed metal, and as one of the early bands of the genre, I can cut them some slack, but the next album better just destroy my ears.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “F.T.B.”, “Pirates”, “The Legionary”, “Nevermore”