Luxembourg’s Scarred has been around for two decades now, having spent the first three years of their career in the early 2000s under the name Requiem. Despite the length of their career Scarred’s material has been fairly spread out, as 2013’s Gaia – Medea is only their second full-length and it was their most recent up until their self-titled effort in 2021. In the time that has passed the band has been through some changes, with a new guitarist and vocalist joining the fold, and with that comes a natural evolution of their established sound. Where its predecessor occupied a space between melodic death metal, thrash, and groove metal with a very bottom-heavy sound, Scarred’s self-titled charts a course for more atmospheric and progressive waters while still retaining the catchy and pummeling grooves of before. It does sometimes run a bit long, but the flow from heavy to melodic works in the band’s favor and the stunning peaks prove this additional experimentation has paid off.
Rather than launching right into the heavier elements of their sound, Scarred has opted for a cinematic sounding intro on “Sol” that builds from softer melodies to much fuller ones with bursts of electronics hinting that things are about to explode in intensity. The band does just that as “Sol” transitions over to “Mirage” where the tone immediately heads towards heavy and abrasive territory with grooves that remind me a bit of early DevilDriver and Lamb of God but slow things down a bit around the halfway mark and up the atmosphere significantly. Compared to the more one-dimensional feel of bands usually lumped in this category, early on this album showcases more dynamic songwriting with Earth-shaking grooves and soaring melodies that wouldn’t sound out of place on a melodic death metal or even a post rock release. It’s clear that Scarred has put a lot of effort into covering as much ground as they can while still tying everything together naturally, as no matter whether they’re flexing their muscles with the heavier grooves or letting melodies that give off some hints of progressive and psychedelic rock take over everything flows together well. The approach pays off wonderfully, as there are the big hooks that will draw in some of the more mainstream leaning crowd but enough depth to appeal to metalheads of all types. I love when a big-room filling groove or guitar lead transitions into melodies that give off a more thoughtful and introspective tone, and it provides plenty of stand-out moments. However, despite the positives there are some songs that stretch on for a bit too long and start to drag the pacing down slightly, with “A.H.A.I.A.” in particular not feeling like it truly justifies its eight-minute run-time.
Yann Dalscheid joined the band in 2016 and brings a more dynamic vocal range to Scarred, which suits the more atmospheric styles that the instrumentals have adopted for this album. Initially Dalscheid delivers a raspier scream that showcases the group hasn’t lost any of their edge in the years that have passed since Gaia – Medea, and his screaming and gruffer singing has instant appeal. But the further into the material you get, the more that the vocals have to offer as you get some powerful singing courtesy of both Dalscheid and guitarist Vincent Wilquin. Scarred doesn’t go quite as mellow with their vocal work compared to where the instrumentals ultimately head, but the pitch has a lot of subtle deviations that keep the album feeling dynamic and this is where they have an edge over other groove/thrash/death metal combos that have the same scream or growl from one song to the next.
Scarred’s latest effort has been a long time coming, but it finds the band pushing their music outwards in all the right ways. The pummeling grooves and thrash/death metal roots that has sometimes brought them some Gojira comparisons in the past are still present, but there’s a lot more focus on soaring melodies and atmosphere that brings in some prog and psychedelic flourishes. Although I still found that a few of the songs and interludes made the album run a bit long, this is still a strong showing by this long-running band and I think there’s potential for them to capture a wide range of metal and rock fans with this release. Scarred is available from Klonosphere.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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