I’ve always respected three piece outfits. And not suits, smart ass. I’m talking about bands like VENOM, RAGE, and the ever vigilant RUSH. These kinds of bands have to give depth of writing and playing with only three members as much as bands that can do it with five (or in some cases nine). So just on that concept, I have to have respect for SCARSTRUCK. These Canadian Death Thrashers have to pull together an album of music with only three guys and no production. It’s respectable in that end.
Unfortunately, most of my praise ends on that ideology too. Due to some very shady production and mixing values, most of their album “The Uprising” tends to fall flat – and not necessarily because of the music. The music contained on this disc tells a lot about this band. They have great energy, some chops to go with it, and a definite sense of their roots and that leads to a pretty solid foundation. Their execution however tends to come off as a bit sloppy. The nuts and bolts of their combination of Thrash and Death Metal (with the occasional hint of Hardcore in the pseudo-breakdowns that will pop up) are all contained on the disc, but I kept expecting the band to tighten it up a bit only to find the same on the next song. The loose style of writing and playing might come across as brilliant to some (and even to an extent it played on my love of early VENOM records with their snarling/energetic approach), but overall it tends to bog down a rather complimentary album.
SCARSTRUCK does run a bit repetitive too towards the end of the album with its one successful side jaunt coming in the form of a pretty rocking instrumental on track four called “Anathema”. The off timed riffs, which at first I found to sound like poor playing, grew on me by the middle of the album then didn’t grow enough by the end, and the vocalist’s hollow rasp tended to run thin too. I desperately needed them to shift things up a bit more here and there on “The Uprising” but never really got it. Somewhat of a minor thing if you like the music, and I can’t really drop them that much for it. They found a sound and they stuck with it. Much like their three piece status, there’s something to respect about that.
The biggest issue I had with “The Uprising” didn’t have anything to do with SCARSTRUCK though. As I mentioned earlier there is a very weak and somewhat degrading production value to this record. Of course, being unsigned, its impressive that they did what they could, but I would have liked to see a bit tighter production and more fleshed out mix. Many of the instruments tend to hollow out, the vocalist gets the brunt of this, and many of them are lost in a flurry of too much reverb and unrefined sound control. It’s sad really, since a slightly tighter production would have done wonders for their style and sound.
“The Uprising” has a lot to love about it but a few too many flaws to be floating up there with some of the bigger names in the business. The raw and cut dry approach to writing and playing will feed into many older fans taste even if I thought it sounded a bit sloppy with its rough production. SCARSTRUCK has a lot of potential and one only gets to see a bit of it on “The Uprising”.
Songs to check out: “Forgotten Scars”, “Anathema”, “Ravenous Uprising”.
(Online December 1, 2009)