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Scimitar have been dancing in the corner of my eye for some time now, but for some reason I was slow to give them my full attention. I should have realized my folly... Scimitar shouldn’t be ignored. “Black Waters,” their first full-length album, reveals a slab of potential that we can start crackin our teeth on. The album sets sail with an instrumental (Mariner’s Lament) that made me think: yeah that’s classy. When ‘Brethren of the Coast’ fires up you get a sense of what you’re in for: adventures in technical guitar, rollicking harsh vocals, smooth backing vocals, relentless drums, and a touch of keys. The bass runs high and dry, a tone I’d compare to the one Steve Harris uses (Iron Maiden). I loved the visit from the acoustic guitar in the song ‘Forest of Wolves.’ The clean vocals, which are in the style of Forefather, make themselves welcome in pretty much every track.
I’m a fan of solos with melody and Scimitar’s guitarists share a good dynamic in this regard, definitely some technical bones in their fingers. The guitar tones remind me of the legendary Mithotyn, a melodic black metal band whose guitaring could’ve fit into the power metal genre had it not been for the harsh vocals involved. Scimitar’s main purveyor of harsh vocals fits right in with a black/death metal vibe. His lyrics are solid too, though perhaps they could’ve used a few less words to say what they needed to. The lyrics have a pirate motif- pirates are an engaging subject, though I hope Scimitar doesn’t go the direction of Alestorm, a band that is heavy on pirates and light on substance. Yet Running Wild has both pirates and substance, so it can be done. I’m eager to see how Scimitar will spice it up in the future.
Scimitar’s songs are quite hefty in length, which is admirable, but methinks some of them could have benefitted from being condensed a tad. The main offender is the grand finale ‘Fireship.’ If I’m going home with an eleven-minute song, it’s either going to be engaging or it’s going to slip me a roofy. I'd like it to be focused enough to explore its own dimensions rather than succumb to self-indulgence. Scimitar walk a fine line here with this track in particular. I thought it could’ve easily been half the length at no cost to its quality (lose a couple verses and bars of guitar wankery and definitely get rid of the “hey-hey-heys” which should only be done live and never written into songs). My favourite track, however, is ‘Buried at Sea,’ an engaging nine-minutes. So all in all this album shows that Scimitar has the power.
I compared Scimitar to Forefather and Mithotyn, two top-notch bands. Ensiferum, Suidakra, and Insomium also come to mind. These are all remarkable bands. Scimitar aren’t at that level yet, they’re just starting out. They aren’t doing anything totally original, but you can tell they’re enjoying themselves and their music. With a little focus and refining Scimitar could be cutting a path to prominence in no time.
Scimitar's two-song demo was a decent piece of melodic pirate/folk metal - gruff vocals, rollicking drums, melodic leads and nearly progressive song structures. With this, their first full-length album, Scimitar step up the formula yet again, utilizing better production and throwing in a bit more technicality and pirate feel to create one hell of a good album.
Both tracks on the demo are here; "Brethren Of The Coast" and "Habeas Corpus" and they've never sounded better. The musicians have clearly improved since the demo, and it shows in the reworking of these two tracks. There are four new tracks here as well, including a mellow, folky instrumental that helps set the tone for the rest of the album. "Forest Of Wolves" is a fast, folky romp that even finds a way to be, dare I say it, catchy. "Buried At Sea" begins as a fast, melody-driven episode that grinds to a slow burn with the addition of some clean vocals and a nicely placed, speedy solo about 3 minutes in.
The album concludes with the 11+ minute epic "Fireship." This track has everything; the melodic pirate metal sections, galloping double bass, even some subtle keyboard. About six minutes in, a blazing guitar solo burns through the track, and at nine minutes, everything erupts into chaos as the drums blast away, the vocals shout at the speed of machine gun fire, and sounds of fire begin to be heard, ushering in another blazing solo which culminates the album.
Scimitar have struck folk metal gold with this album, evoking Alestorm if they had more balls, or Ensiferum if they sailed under the Jolly Roger. The constant melodic leads can become slightly monotonous at times, and the vocals can become a bit repetitive, but these minor deficiencies are vastly overshadowed by the positive qualities of the album. An excellent work by a rising star.