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Fire It Up - 80%

Basilisk, November 30th, 2012

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.