"Running The Gauntlet"
How much patience do you have? I have quite a bit of patience, thus I can freely like this album a good deal, but, if you don't have very much patience, you might want to save your money for what you consider to be "necessary releases".
It isn't that this is a poor release, quite the contrary. S.C.A.L.P.'s blend of thick as hell later PANTERA metal fused with the sensibilites of “Wildhoney” era TIAMAT make for an enjoyable aural experience. But we've heard it all, many times before. The Russian band has a fine recording polish that accentuates their reliance on thick one-two punch riffs that are repeated heavily underneath their lead vocalists throaty yell. The band is tight, and I can't really hear any lapses in playing ability, but the musical compositions never drift from overt repetitions of Russian shouted verses and staccato riffs, with the occasional solo tossed in seemingly without regard to the songs, in general.
Its fist pumping stuff, and most Death Metal fans will probably like it, but none of the songs are easily distinguished from each other, and there's a distinct lack of diversity. Not that sticking to one's guns is an overly poor decision, but this material screams for variety that doesn't come. I did very much like the relatively brief opener, "Rassvet", which showcases the band being more reserved and melody oriented. I find the most interesting parts of “Chuzhana Voyna” to be the softer, more restrained verses, which come altogether too little. Everything else phases into a deep crushing Metal mush.
Oddly enough, for such pounding material, it seems awkwardly forced, with too many softer trod segments which are allocated to seemingly get the different lines out of the way without running short on actual material. The only time they really light a fire under their asses is on the bonus track "The Last", which features a more raw and ear crashing introduction before they regale themselves to the staggered safety zone.
In all, S.C.A.L.P.'s latest release, “Chuzhana Voyna”, is a firm collection of faceless, but enduring and catchy Death Metal tunes with a glaring Gothic Metal spirituality. They rarely drift from their comfort areas, but the musicianship is superb, and you're sure to bang your head at least once. I just longed for more personality and diversity to keep me interested along the way.
Best Song: Rassvet
Guest review by Dustin Tate
(Online June 9, 2010)