Scars – Predatory Review

Thrash albums should be an hour long. FALSE. Why do bands think that? The latest from Testament is a great example of a recent thrash album that would have been excellent if twenty minutes had been shaved off it. In fact, just last week as the AMG crew hurled insults across the six-foot barriers at each other, one thing we agreed on was that thrash albums need to aim for the 29-minute sweet spot. Also known as the Reign in Blood theorem, it is seemingly impossible for bands to get close to. Multiple six or seven-minute epic cuts don’t help, unless that song is Thrashist Regime’s “Laughter Then Madness Then Death.” So here comes Brazil’s Scars, with the one-hour1 Predatory.

Scars have been around for nearly thirty years now. Why have we never heard of them? Well, one reason would be that until this week they’ve only released one full-length recording, 2008’s Devilgod Alliance. The band seems to have resuscitated its career over the last couple of years, with a couple of singles (included here as bonus tracks) and a live record, but two albums in thirty years is not an admirable pace. Those singles – “Armageddon” and “Silent Force,” just happen to be the strongest songs on Predatory. The first is a true old-school thrash number and “Silent Force” is musically monumental, loaded with aggressive riffs and plenty of shredding. If Predatory opened with those two songs instead of counting them as bonus tracks, things might have been different – but not by much.

Of the nine new songs delivered, “Ghostly Shadows” is the closest to memorable, with a truly anthemic opening and a thick, groovy central riff. The best song on here is “The Unsung Requiem.” Why? Because it is unsung – a two-minute instrumental track, thankfully giving us a break from Regis F.’s vocals at the album’s midpoint. From what I can gather Regis F. is the only original member remaining in Scars, although guitarist Alex Zeraib has been there nearly since the beginning. It would explain why the band lets Regis sing, because his vocals single-handedly make Predatory the most annoying album I’ve listened to this year. Sure, the music is nothing special – there is a paucity of original riffs and ideas here – but even when the songs are marginally interesting, like “Ghostly Shadows,” Regis’ marble-filled warbling on the mic reduces the song to delete bin fodder.

Production is pretty standard with chunky palm-muted guitars chugging away over a militant, unremarkable rhythm section. The mix as well is just fine, thank you very much, loud but clear. Musically this is by no means a messy record. The band is tight and on point. There just isn’t much material to work with here that is beyond okay. Generic solos, plenty of chunky yet recycled riffs, and overly long compositions (five of the nine songs are over six minutes) make Predatory a tedious chore rather than a joy to play. One would think that, with thirty years and only one album to speak of, Scars would have plenty of outstanding material at their fingertips. That does not seem to be the case.

The search for great thrash in this day and age continues. My brief foray into the genre courtesy of Scars is scarring enough to have me turn back to prog after this.2 Even if Predatory could somehow come in at half its length, it still wouldn’t be worth of much more than a Bad rating. Generic songwriting and awful vocals put this album at the bottom of my 2020 playlist.


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps MP3
Label: Brutal Records
Websites: scars4.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/scars.thrash
Releases Worldwide: August 7th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Including two bonus tracks, otherwise 49 minutes. But still.
  2. The rest of my August reviews are prog, in fact. Yay?
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