It seems that metal bands somehow always find a way to come up with badass names. Scar The Martyr is everything a heavy metal band name should be: irreverent, evil, haunting and, nodding to Christianity. Unfortunately, the cool name might be the only good thing about Scar The Martyr and their eponymous debut album.
The side project of Slipknot drummer Joey Jordison, Scar The Martyr combines several of the trending styles of today’s metal scene, including industrial, alternative, and nu metal. This combination bodes well for dedicated metalheads, as they will recognize the variety in the tracks.
Unfortunately, even for the dedicated ear, the predominant influences of alternative metal and metalcore weigh down the album and blend the tracks. Part of this issue is the formulaic nature inherent of metalcore itself. In metalcore it is necessity to have chugging guitars, double-kick bass drums, and alternating screamed—or at least distorted—and clean, harmonic vocals. While these elements might sound like they allow for creative freedom, ultimately the patterns and riffs of the guitars and drums sound too similar across many of the metalcore-heavy tracks.
The result of this metalcore predominance is that many of the songs on the LP are indiscernible from each other. After several listens, you might forget which track you are on because the surrounding ones sound so unfortunately similar. A further reason for this blending comes from some of the exhausting song lengths. Several tracks that make up the one-hour-and-fourteen-minute long LP near or exceed seven minutes. What makes matters worse is that these tend to be the overly formulaic metalcore songs like “Blood Host,” which embodies the sins of the album. Drawn-out, repetitive, similar-sounding tracks are not the foundation for a good album.
Scar The Martyr is not completely irredeemable, though. As mentioned above, there are some more diverse musical elements and metal subgenres brought to the table that aid in fleshing out the disc. Industrial fans will enjoy the electronic beats of tracks like “Cruel Ocean” and “Effigy Unborn,” which bring a welcome addition to the rhythmic textures of the LP. Even the more casual metal fan will be attracted to the beautiful vocal harmonies and guitar work on “Soul Disintegration” and “White Nights In A Day Room.” The lead guitar work across the album, done by metal pros Jed Simon and Kris Norris, is one of the album’s standout features. The two axmen craft interesting melodic lines and bring the diversifying factor of Middle Eastern sounds to some of the solos, such as that of “Soul Disintegration.”
Side projects are hard. Too often is the case where the band is seen in reference to the usually more famous band of origin. Add the pressure of a highly formulaic genre, and the result is Scar The Martyr. Be warned before you put this album on: it has a scarring effect.
Key Tracks: “Dark Ages,” “Soul Disintegration,” and “White Nights In A Day Room”
Originally Published on The Rotation, WGTB Georgetown Radio's Music Blog, on 10/10/13