REVIEW: SCOUR – Black [EP]
Supergroups are hit-or-miss in many cases. There is something about the antithesis of the sum being lesser than its parts that plague supergroups across all genres of art, and metal is not an exception to the rule. Very few supergroups make it past their first record, let alone be able to carve an identity of its own, without getting lost in the mire of being a hastily cobbled together effort. Killer Be Killed is an example of a successful supergroup. After listening to their newest EP, the bluntly named, Black, Scour may be another name to add to the list of successful supergroups.
Black is the third EP of Scour’s color-themed record cycle, following their debut Grey, and 2016’s Red. Staying true to their tried, tested, and true formula of five tracks and an instrumental interlude, single word titles, and fifteen minutes of ferocity. Record opener Doom opens with a thematically perfect siren, before hitting you with a jagged tremolo riff informing the few unaware listeners, that this is very much a black metal record. Scour is an interesting beast, borne of members not primarily entrenched in the stereotypes of black metal, but rather death metal and deathgrind. Guitarists Derek Engemann (ex-Cattle Decapitation, Cast The Stone, etc.) and Mark Kloeppel (Misery Index, Cast the Stone) are deathgrind stalwarts, so their take on black metal lacks the nuance of more experienced black metal musicians, but more than makes up for it in aggression. Tracks like Propaganda and Nail throw in the toothiness of grindcore into the mix. Drummer Adam Jarvis (Misery Index) is also a large part of why Scour is not your run of the mill B-side black metal band. His death metal approach to black metal colors straightforward riffs in fresh ways and keeps the listener on their toes.
On Black, the tracks weave in and out of so many veteran influences, there are hints of old school black metal bands like Emperor and Bathory, yet there are other non-black metal influences like Anaal Nathrak, Cattle Decapitation, and unsurprisingly Misery Index that creep into the sound as well, moving effortlessly through razor-sharp riffs, while slipping ever so often into melodic arrangements.
The true monster, saved for last is Scour’s crowned king: vocalist Phil Anselmo (ex-Pantera, and so many others). It is Anselmo’s contribution that keeps Scour’s sound novel. He almost never strays too far into black metal’s screeched agony, yet relying on death metal growls, barks, and uses Ihsahn-esque fry vocals sparingly and to great effect. As someone who always cringed at the overuse of high register vocals staple to black metal, Scour has the perfect register.
Black is the third and hopefully not the last EP, lending heavy credibility to the “super” in supergroup. It would be an absolute tragedy if we are robbed of future, hopefully, full-length black-grind that Scour have near-perfected.