Different, more mature, more powerful and much more convincing. These were my initial thoughts when I first heard this album for everything was of a much higher standard when compared to their first offering, their self-titled demo.
After the aforementioned self-titled demo SCAVENGER unleashed upon the Irish Metal scene many blistering live shows that firmly cemented their place among the most promising acts in Ireland's ever growing metal scene. It is because of this that "Madness To Our Method" became one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Released by Irish label Sentinel Records, this album certainly does not disappoint as it takes SCAVENGER from strength to strength.
Opener "On The Outside" typifies the band's stylistic progression with its moody bass intro and long build up that makes the track keep a slower tempo than we are used to with SCAVENGER. Gone is the old school metal feel, and indeed the power metal, for this is much too serious to be considered alongside those. Despite this it seems that the band's overall style has benefited greatly with this new found dark feeling. The overall presence of the band, in the riffing, percussion and vocal delivery, has become much more intense, technical and powerful during this transition.
At this stage I can already see how finding more ideas and moods to base and expand your music upon certainly has benefited the band. The fierce technicality of the riffing, the overall weight and improvement in the percussion area and a production that finally captures their sound perfectly has really done wonders for allowing the music to sound, atmospherically, exactly as it should because of its allowance of the dark and moody undertones to be clearly understood.
While "Madness To Our Method" is clearly a fantastic Heavy Metal album its presence belongs to much darker subgenres and it often sounds much more Prog than I would have suspected from SCAVENGER, needless to say however it was a change for the better. "Ethereal Journey" is a perfect example of how their new moody style works wonders for the band. There is a very passionate feel about the vocals (just listen to the beginning) that was missing before. The riffing is very infectious yet remaining sedate and powerful. This being the shortest and most powerful of the tracks on offer is probably the most instant in an album that should take a good few listens before it really clicks.
The reverse can be said for the 9 and a half minute epic track "Prisoner Of Time". In this track the bands varying styles are fully utilised with an effective build up before unleashing into one of the more uptempo riffs and sections of the album. This song makes great use of its length by varying its tempo and style often. The percussion stands out as much as the great riffing and has definitely proved its worth as one of SCAVENGER's finer points. This track is not as instant as the previous, but it certainly is a belter.
Despite the praise I've thus far heaped on this album it is certainly not without its flaws. By far the greatest problem I have with this album is that it is a total deviation from their previous style. If they had used their more speedy elements (elements that this album does unfortunately lack) and up beat sections the overall mood and darkness of these tracks could have been increased simply by contrast. In the live setting the general sedate pace of these tracks may fail to grab audiences as fully as before. Hopefully this will not happen as SCAVENGER are truly fantastic in the live setting.
In the future I would hope to see the band express themselves more with a combination of their two styles, but to take "Madness To Our Method" as it is... It is a fantastic achievement of dark Heavy Metal that should appeal to anyone who appreciates good well constructed songs with a darker edge. Another style that the SCAVENGER lads can call upon in their arsenal, and one I hope to see used again in the future, but overall the album leaves you feeling that their is still much more that the band have to offer. Letís hope so! (Online August 31, 2004)