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Having been a fan of frontman Ethan McCarthy's project Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire for a while now, my anticipation for this release was sky high especially after the release of "Visceral" in 2011, which saw them incorporating elements of funeral doom into their usual brand of frenzied "funeral grind." Over the 16 and some odd minutes of it's runtime the band seamlessly jumps from a crawl to a full on assault, tied together by their unique riffs and note choices. Scorn is a natural continuation of that sound, yet retaining the same unyielding commitment to anti-consonance.
The first thing that caught my attention about this release is just how massive everything sounds. Bass and guitars are downtuned and loud, and both possess a rich fuzzy distortion that really serves to emphasize the low end and really rounds out their sound. Drums are punchy and full bodied and sit perfectly in the mix. Ethan's vocals have always been one of the major standout factors to his work for me and he's honestly never sounded more at home here, his caustic shrieks cutting fiercely through the dense atonal sludge of the riffs driving home the intensity of the work.
As mentioned before, Scorn is heavy. REALLY FUCKING HEAVY. Much of the album is spent somewhere between a drunken stagger and a punishing crawl which works quite well for them. Tracks begin and end with noise as would befit any grind act. The dissonance of their riffing when given some proper breathing room tends to yield an unsettling effect, which is often bolstered by the inclusion of feedback or fret noise in the more sparse passages. That's not to say the album is all set at that pace, in songs like the title track and Antietam will explode out of nowhere into a brief but furious crusty charge, adding to the urgency of it the music settling back down. The most impressive part of it all and the thing that will likely add to its staying power are the way they can carve impossibly catchy riffs with a clever ear for unconventional melody. The song Rags fades out with a haunting arpeggiated chord progression laid down over a bed of feedback. The 9 minute epic Antietam's middle section's got a nasty grooving hook that gradually reduces in tempo as if it's falling apart before breaking completely down into noise. The sum of all it's parts work well together and keep the album interesting throughout.
This is an excellent first effort for the band and I look forward to whatever the future holds for them.