The Deadcalm

Written by: PP on 18/09/2014 18:47:59

Much like they did on their debut album "Mirror Faced Mentality" six years ago, Danish tech metal unit Scamp intend to melt your face down immediately on album opener "The Broken 20/20". It's a devastatingly heavy guitar sound that is only contrasted by brief moments of haunted, semi-clean choral sections that give the listener some breathing room from the relentless intensity that the song otherwise represents. It sets the tone for the rest of "The Deadcalm", which deals constant dominance brought by crushing guitars that not only sound extremely muscular in the mix but also remember to include a degree of technicality that defined Scamp's debut album.

Much has changed in six years. The vocalist has been changed and the microphone is now controlled by ex-Mnemic singer Michael Bøgballe, who brings a different dimension to their sound compared to their old vocalist, who bore striking resemblance to Greg Puciato's style of The Dillinger Escape Plan fame. What this means in practice is a delivery and an overall expression that is sadly more conventional Danish metal oriented than the innovative and futuristic chaos that was on display on the debut. Bøgballe's yell is extremely monotonous and unvaried in the long-term, and when the album lasts well over an hour, the songs quickly start blending together as we pass the halfway mark on the album. Fortunately the clean sections provided by the backing vocals rescue that department from being an outright disaster, but an otherwise interesting musical landscape feels off when modern instrumentation is contrasted by a more traditional metal yell/growl style instead of a screaming style as utilized previously.

Here, too, Scamp have undergone some changes. They're now even more obviously drawing from the djent movement led by Meshuggah than in the past, but Bøgballe's addition has simultaneously pushed the band towards an expression that also draws from Raunchy's "Death Pop Romance". This is best exemplified by "Organism", which has hints of Fear Factory in its sound but then during its chorus pushes the band straight into the arms of Raunchy, basically. It is the dreaded stereotypical Danish metal sound that we're approaching here, and that's not a good thing. Newer readers may not remember, but around the mid to late 2000s the Danish metal scene was basically dominated by a desire to sound as motherfucking heavy as possible, interesting songwriting was basically an afterthought in that process. Sadly, there are lengthy sections on "The Deadcalm" where I'm thinking just that. Forgettable, boring, and nothingsaying, despite being technical, but again, much of this has to do with the sub par lead vocals.

Overall, it's a distinctly more groove-oriented approach to technical metal rather than the explosive, unpredictable crash into brick-wall type of chaos that dominated their debut album. The latter is what made Scamp exciting six years ago; they dared to differ from their national colleagues in a big way and delivered a critically acclaimed album living up to international standards. "The Deadcalm" is in that sense a step back into a less ambitious soundscape and one that, at least in the ears of this reviewer, doesn't stick to your mind long after you've finished a listening session. A classic case of being massively heavy not necessarily equaling being good songs.


Download: The Boys From Dead Soul Road, Existence Status Zero, Organism
For the fans of: Meshuggah, Raunchy, Mnemic
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.06.2014
Scarlet Records

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