Scarred – Scarred Review

One of the more mystifying phenomena in the development in the metal scene is the emergence of “tech metal.” So far as I understand it, tech metal is a European scene and the bands therein are the aftermath of the total collapse in interest in djent in the rest of the world. Wisely, the Europeans rebranded, and even more wisely, they learned (though I believe “learnt” is also acceptable over there) to play something other than Meshuggah riffs. The results are… well, that’s the odd part. Tech metal bands seem to have absolutely no clue what they’re doing, Scarred included.

Scarred’s self-titled defies all reason. The songs’ titles are all over the place, their lengths utterly irregular, their sequence baffling. The band will run through one to five different genres in a single song, never for an apparent reason. The base constituents of tech metal are all there; try-hard hardcore, oddly placed rock beats, and grooves that both recall and shame Gojira. Like many other tech metal bands, Scarred don’t play much that’s very technical and (to their credit) make no attempt to pantomime extra technicality. But if Scarred isn’t a vessel for showing off their chops, what is it for?

My hope is that Scarred is the band’s intermediate record before pivoting to progressive black metal. It’s only when Sacrred slip into the tremolo zone™ that they obtain any sense of direction; The back halves of “Mirage,” “In Silent Darkness,” “Dance of the Giants,” and “Petrichor1,” all slip into a Gaerea-like modern black metal sound, and though Scarred don’t do much in that space, once they get in there their songs start to make at least a modicum of sense. Start them off, and they’re bouncing off the goddamn walls; Scarred don’t know if they want to be Riverside, Gojira, Devin Townsend, et cetera. Every time they see a new style they drop the one they have and go for it. But once they get their paws on that black-metal-filled-kong, they’re down licking that for the rest of the song.

Nobody with more than a baker’s dozen brain cells will tell you that splicing genres can’t be fruitful. There is this whole thing called “prog,” and, more relevant to Scarred and the Basick Records ilk, this clumsily-named “mathcore.” But the luminaries of mathcore are that because they found a way to make chaos compelling. Dillinger built their career on rhythms that were meticulously wrong; Rolo Tomassi blend genres with an uncanny command of suspense and pacing. Both groups also had the talent to pull that off: world-class vocalists and luminary players. Scarred don’t have the chops, but they’re also missing the basic vision of those groups. Instead of synthesizing sounds based on counterpoint and commonality, they merely repeat them in strange sequences based on a loose and faulty intuition.

About half of the individual pieces of Scarred are listenable, but there’s little reason to listen to them. Scarred have very few interesting ideas and run out of them quickly, falling back on banal style shifts and crutch songwriting. Scarred is too high-falutin’ to be a hardcore record, too distracted to be a groove metal album, and too angsty to keep up the atmosphere of black metal. I suppose that’s why there’s a name for this music, but I can’t comprehend who the audience is. Don’t bother with this record2.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label:  Klonosphere Records
Websites: scarred.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/scarred
Releases Worldwide: January 22nd, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. These song titles give a false sense of… sense. Other titles include “Chupacabra,” “A.D… Something,” and “A.H.A.I.A”
  2. Except if your handle here is GardensTale and you want to get an early start on this year’s album art list. This piece by Drazen Medakovic is by far the best part of Scarred.
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