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Since this is a split EP let's go ahead and determine that the first three songs by Landmine Marathon are fucking awesome. Of course they're the reason that I got this record in the first place. But since this is a Scarecrow review I'll save my LM comments for later.
The first thing that struck me was that the difference in production between Scarecrow and LM is significant. The LM sound is full and round, they know their way around a recording studio. But the Scarecrow tracks, in comparison, sound like they drums were recorded on a Fostex cassette 4-track and the guitars are direct through a Pod. If the drums were recorded slightly better I would have given this 100% but it's the only "shortcoming" that I can find with this record. I use quotes because the production might actually add some charm-- it's not entirely a fault, as it were.
Scarecrow play a style of thrash that just isn't done effectively these days by new bands. As much as I like Warbringer, Fueled By Fire, Municipal Waste, Sauron, LaZarus, Skeletonwitch, etc there's something about those bands that still sounds modern. There's some missing element that I can't put my finger on that doesn't sound like vintage thrash. Maybe it's too self-conscious. Maybe their musical influences aren't from the 70s and early 80s. I don't know what it is.
Scarecrow, however, has a perfect 'Metal Up Your Ass' sound. I'm not saying authenticity and adherence to a genre is better, but there's absolutely nothing in me that thinks this is second generation thrash-- not surprising considering this band has former members of Exhumed and Repulsion.
The first song, entitled "The Scum Also Rises", is, I'm assuming, a play on words based on the Ernest Hemmingway bullfighting/drinking novel "The Sun Also Rises" (there just aren't enough Hemmingway references in metal-- clearly the dude is the thinking man's he-man).
The song begins with a steaming solo and leads into a sharp pentatonic riff. But it's the vocals that make this band immediately stand out. The phrasing and intonation of the vocal delivery immediately bring to mind the classic thrash of bygone days.
Dueling guitars with mad riffing and key changes underneath make up the meat of the song. There are more hooks in the first two minutes of this than on an average CD these days. Even the post-chorus bass chords become a hook!
These guitar players absolutely shred. But not in a Arsis / Necrophagist, neo-Malmsteen, three-notes-per-string way. They sound like they were more influenced by the giants of the 60s and 70s than the heros of the video game generation.
"Twilight's Last Gleaming" has a long intro that sets up the headbanging main riff very well-- a songwriting tool that they utilize the way it should be done. Memorable guitar harmonies and more pounding riffs. From what I can tell, the lyrics are a cynical look at American politics.
Damn... if only the production was better these guys would rule our doomed world. Seriously, this is songwriting, arrangement, and execution at its best. If you think of it as a demo you can imagine their major label release!
"Scapegoat Parade" is another stomper with an addictive early-Hetfield vocal delivery. Another string of awesome solos that complement the songs and keep the momentum up. Halfway through the double-kick gives the song another adrenaline shot before the breakdown.
I hope some wise label snatches these guys up and give them the production they deserve. I look forward to hearing more from Scarecrow.