Review: The Scum “The Hunger” [Rotten Records / Satanath Records]

Review: The Scum “The Hunger” [Rotten Records / Satanath Records]

- in Reviews
Score 85%
36 minutes with no filler
85 %
User Rating : 4.1 (1 votes)

The Scum are just about exactly what you think of when you read “The Scum”. This is ugly, visceral, right-up-in-your-face death metal, with elements of grimy crust punk and mid-period deathgrind Napalm Death slathered on top of the core of simplistic, bludgeoning riffs, from the very first second to the very last. The main course is Swedish HM-2 buzzsawing with a heavy curtain of distortion that even seems to seep up into the monotonous growling riding atop the mix, comparable favorably to Barney Greenway or unfavorably to Juan Brujo, although this baseline serves as the canvas for a variety of forms of blunt-force muscle, ranging from doomy pounding (which grows increasingly more prevalent towards the back half of the record) and fast, technical, intricate lead-work from the triple guitar attack, who otherwise generally layer up on top of each other to enhance the intensity of the mid-range bruising. They spend the majority of the track listing, especially from the title track onward to “Rogue”, in this compositional holding pattern, briefly indulging a secondary element for no longer than half or three quarters of a bridge before it’s back to the mid-tempo mulching that makes you feel something’s stuck in the back of your throat.

It would perhaps be repetitive, or a bit lacking in depth and variety, if the songwriting were not so compact and economical; The Scum get in, lay a heavy riff right in your face, and before you know it they’ve galloped and filled their way directly to the next part of the listing without skipping a beat — which means that it’s not particularly likely to get stale, as very few if any ideas stick around long enough for you to truly get sick of them before they’re whisked away to be replaced with the next lick or solo (except perhaps those drawn out a little bit too long in penultimate cut “Forsaken”), The record is over long before you know what happens, and it took a second run-through for a lot of it to really make an impression on me, although it leaves me less hungering for more and more exactly sated with what I’ve got, even with regards to the most complex and chromatic of the wandering progressions. Any fan of Driller Killer, Nails, or other recent examples of death metal crossing with crust, downtuned d-beat, and other forms of hardcore will immediately get what’s going on and see what they have to sink their teeth into, though, and this is yet another band whose sound seems to have been perfectly honed for the realities of the live circuit and keeping an audience swirling in a frenzy all throughout.

In some ways, it leaves a listener wondering what they could do if they provided a tiny touch of additional refinement and tapped their potential just that little bit more. What would this album be like if they opened the mix up just a little bit, added some extra room for the bass to add heft and weight to the guitar tone so it could truly embody the broad-bodied Bolt Thrower-esque bludgeon it’s clearly trying to be? What if they leaned even further into and really developed the little hints of atmosphere that hang around the core of the sound? What if they clarified the gloom away from the lingering influence of dissonant black metal that’s sitting over the entire affair, or, alternately, actually realized it? What if they tried to put something together rather than just relying on the speed of the affair to blitz the listener with a shotgun of ideas executed on so succinctly you barely have time to process them? This is, perhaps, whatever The Sequel holds in store for The Scum. Regardless, what they’ve already put out is a brutal, punchy package of concise and catchy punk-inflected death metal, checking every box from dramatic solo wailing to crushing impressions of doom to thrashy pit rippers, and at only 36 minutes, there’s no excuse not to at least give it a chance.

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