It’s easy to slip into Grinch mode as we hurtle towards the silly season. Unfortunately for many, before the Christmas and other holiday festivities hit full swing, there’s a shitload of commitments and deadlines to navigate before it’s time to kick back and relax. On top of these realities comes the nauseating Christmas commercialism that predictably takes over and gets jammed down throats, making me feel as if I’m going to start shitting elves any day now. Thankfully metal is here to keep sanity in check. And though most of the year’s stronger releases have dropped already, there’s an assortment of end-of-year dregs to sift through. And it can’t all be grim, right? Even if release planning isn’t particularly well thought out and your band is unfortunate enough to be in the unenviable position of dropping an album in the critical close down period of December, there’s bound to be some diamonds in the end of year rough. For the death metal genre, it has been an interesting if hardly mind-blowing year, with underwhelming to solid output being the norm, rather than an abundance of top-shelf albums.
Now we have gore-obsessed Delaware troopers Scorched delving out punishing old school death blows on their debut LP Echoes of Dismemberment, offering a brutish, no-frills antidote to all the syrupy end of year tripe. Channeling influences such as Grave, Cianide and Autopsy, Scorched leave subtlety and any semblance of innovation at the door, plunging forward with the destructive force of an armored tank. Filthy guttural growls, trampling death riffs, doomy undertows, wildly chaotic solos and bulldozing drumming lead the way, while sinister atmospheric ooze and neck-wrecking grooves contrast effectively against the powerful bludgeon. Aside from several creepy ambient interludes, Echoes of Dismemberment goes straight for the throat, albeit with a rusty hatchet rather than a sharp, sterilized blade. “Torture Prolonged” brings all these critical elements together, mixing up doom-laden death slogs with livelier pacing, a chaotic mid-section and viciously groovy climax.
Although Echoes relies heavily on its bruising mid-paced crush and pummel to get the point across, the wildly unhinged guitar solos and primitive speedy sections on tracks like “Craving Human Remnants” lend the album a useful dynamic, chasing off monotony. Still, the thrashy bursts mainly serve to accentuate the band’s number one mission of cranking out burly horror soaked, riff-driven death built on a foundation of chunky mid-paced groove and infectious riffs. It’s a simple combo, but one that wisely plays to the band’s strengths. Infested with catchy riffs and encrusted with muck, “Rot in Confinement” reinforces this point, even whipping out some soulful guitar work towards its back-end. There’s nothing in the way of weak tracks, however, as solidly executed and potently riffy and groovy as Echoes consistently is, the songwriting never reaches a higher plane of excellence, mostly hovering around the solid to very good end of the spectrum.
“Autopsy Complete” is another strong example of the band’s grisly formula, weaving graveyard atmospherics around rusty hooks, killer guitar work and headbangable grooves. Performances are solid across the board, with the uncomplicated though consistently entertaining guitar work the obvious standout. Production-wise Echoes is equipped with a sound that fits like a well-worn, bloodied glove; armed with chunky, natural tones and ample bottom end to suit the beefy bludgeon of the material. My main issues with Echoes of Dismemberment boil down to the lack of originality and that the songwriting middles around solid territory, falling short of the higher quality to warrant a stronger ranking.
As yet another old school death metal album, Echoes of Dismemberment is solid through and through. And while unlikely to blow many people away, what it does, it does particularly well. Beyond their well-worn influences, Scorched still manage to make a distinct impression with their raw and bruising delivery and a strong supply of riffs, hacking their own path of old school brutality to chase those pesky do-gooders away.