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Believe it or Not, the Script Has Been Altered - 88%

bayern, May 6th, 2017

And it was probably for the better, if you ask me, as Sceptic were turning into rigid Death followers, by all means one of the pioneers in this trend, with two fairly strong, but also overtly derivative, albums that kept Chuck Schuldiner’s (R.I.P.) legacy alive, a tribute which started even before the man’s untimely demise…

One has second thoughts admiring loyal tributes to legends (the Germans Warhammer, to give one shining example) from the past, the artists not trying to shift from the familiar formula, not even by an isolated chord. Sceptic have never been blind emulators, but at the same time they never attempted to run away from Death’s shadow at the beginning, and a third effort in the same vein would have indelibly placed them in the blind existence… sorry, emulation “purgatory” where the aforementioned Germans and other outfits have ended. Something had to happen, of the “third time’s the charm” scenario… and Jacek Hiro and Co. made no mistake.

Yes, the script has been changed on the album reviewed here, and it’s up to the fans to decide whether it has been for the better, or for the worse. The reviewer votes for the former option as this opus isn’t such a radical departure from their chosen path, and at the same time gives the musicians an opportunity to play around with more flexible forms within the progressive metal palette. As a result the delivery is closer to thrash than death metal as the opening title-track shows so well with its bouncy, active rhythms; the presence of the melo-death movement can be felt as well, but not as oppressingly heavy as frequent, more laid-back progressive breaks ensure the song’s less predictable character. “Illusion Possessor” has no “illusions” regarding its stance, and its crunchy technical riffage recalls Coroner in a very good way the guys marching onward in a consistent mid-paced, serpentine fashion the traditional hysterical rending vocals acquiring a more subdued growling shape. “Controlled by Mind” “flirts” with the ballad at the beginning, but the more aggressive notes emerge from the aether although they remain within the semi-balladic confines recalling later-period Death (now if this isn’t something entirely new!); no complaints as the subversive effective guitar work delivers on all counts if you ignore the calls from your headbanging side.

From mind to soul control within a heartbeat with “Soul Controllers”, a progressive thrash masterpiece with the mentioned Swiss masters a reference point again as the puzzling riff-patterns are very similarly executed including the several stop-and-go breaks and the mellower atmospheric sprawl. “Shapeless Entity” has a most concrete “shape” being a speedy, quite technical as well, headbanger with intricate steel riffs flying from all sides the band alleviating the assault with slower additives which reach balladic proportions in the second half, but to a rather positive effect. “Knowledge Gatherer” slows down again sticking to purer progressive metal conventions, but watch out for the blistering technical outbreak in the middle followed by a fine lead section. “Voices from the Past” is a 7-min tribute to Death’s “Voice of the Soul”, only twice as long, slowing down the proceedings by a healthy notch, also ultimately blocking the “away from the Death influence” evolution that was flowing relatively smoothly until that point. Hiro has already proven himself as a great axeman; he hardly needed additional 7-min to consolidate his reputation... Anyway, the age of romanticism is over with “Spiritually Tormented”, a superb melo-death/thrasher with one of the most memorable main motifs of the new millennium; later the jarring modern-ish thrashing ala Coroner’s “Grin” does nothing to stain its application; on the contrary, it only enhances the fast-paced feast the latter also reminding of Quo Vadis’ “Defiant Imagination”. “Waves of Destruction” wraps it on in a minimalistic creepy manner touching both doom and the semi-ballad along the way, the singer adhering to more restrained semi-recitals to match the downbeat finale.

A different “beast” as a whole, one that got the job done to put the band on a different pedestal, revealing their more entrepreneurial side, using the Death template only sparingly without falling into any “copycat” traps. The already accumulated fanbase weren’t very happy with this transition as they saw no reason why the guys should abandon a formula that was producing positive results in the first place. Besides, Hiro had already founded Never, a more thrash-fixated outfit, to give more freedom to his thrashy visions… Why try this within the Sceptic context?

Again to these ears this was by all means the right decision seeing the band capable of creating something more individualistic, showing them in a better light as artists. It had the aura of a one-time spell which was exactly the case as the band returned to the safer death metal formula on “Internal Complexity” two years later, another sure winner in their discography. The good news is that the transformation course carries on to an extent on this new showing, too, as the guys (and girl now, the vocalist) have retained some of the unique characteristics from here, not necessarily looking at Death for inspiration the whole time. With all sceptics silenced, Jacek Hiro and Co. should feel more at ease now including with another decision to provide more changes to their ever-reliant death script.

Almost unbelievably boring - 46%

Noktorn, March 9th, 2010

This essentially sounds like a low-rent Illogicist; it's not as tasteful and reminds me uncomfortably of Arsis in a lot of places in its 'guitar demo masquerading as an album' feel. It's not really unlistenable but it has a sort of Annihilator quality in that when the band is writing real riffs they tend to come off as really cheesy, as though this was a band started by a couple lead guitarists to show off while the other players just kind of limply shuffle around and try not to get in the way. It's rather unmusical despite its melodic presence.

Technical music becomes boring music extremely easily when there's a lack of memorability. Sceptic is not memorable but is excellent at being boring. All the melodic techniques Sceptic uses have been used before; the slower, power chord-driven passages borrow heavily from post-metal chord shapes, the somewhat offtime, technical midpaced sections are straight from the Arsis or Illogicist playbook, and the faster portions remind one of 'Planetary Duality' (though obviously predating that album dramatically). Part of the reason I resent this album so much is that the band refuses to let the technicality shine through in a tasteful manner; every bit of arpeggiation is forced directly down the listener's throat. The overall feeling of this album is like being poked gently in the belly every fifteen seconds by the headstock of a guitar. I don't like it when bandmates do it and I'm not going to like it when a bunch of pollocks do it either.

It's kind of funny that for such 'technical' music the only thing that's really technical is the guitars; the drum performance is very still and just follows the guitars with surprisingly little intricacy. Vocals are one of those kind of weak pseudo-Gothenburg growls that essentially sound like the band was going to be instrumental but then at the last moment decided to add vocals because they remembered they were supposed to be a death metal band. Hell, even the technicality on the guitars in unimpressive; the band just repeats the same general melodic sense over and over again in very slightly different variations through the whole album; I can hardly tell the riffs apart sometimes since they're all composed of tremolo picking an open E and putting in some random high notes which all sound very similar between riffs.

In all honesty, though I've been shitting on this album pretty hard, it's not really miserable; the production is good and the music fades into the background all to well. There's just nothing even remotely interesting about it. This is, as I said, a guitar demo masquerading as an album. Guitar students might get some mileage out of it, but who actually wants to LISTEN to this?

Believe In the Unbeliever's Script - 100%

serial_killer_miller, June 20th, 2008

I've noticed that the only two reviews for this album are negative. Normally, I am inclined to agree, Cryptopsy's latest offering comes to mind and Deicide's new album is another example. However, this time I am going to go against the norm. Is it [A] because I am one of those non-conformist kids who just wants to be different? Is it [B] that I just want to ruffle some feathers by giving a good review to an album that doesn't deserve one? Or can it be [C] the simple fact that this album is actually good? Well... for those of you keeping score at home, the correct answer was C.

Now, I'm going to tell you why this album is actually good. First, unlike most death metal bands these guys are doing something with some originality. There are many riffs on this record that strike a chord (no pun intended) with me on this album. They stay in my head for a long time and seem to be a solid foundation to an earth shattering album.

The second thing that makes this album great are the vocals are not what you would expect from a Polish death metal band. Instead of the mono-tone growls you are treated to a nice mix of raspy gutter vocals and sinister sounding grunts that at times seem to lend themselves to the black metal genre. These two vocal styles combine perfectly to deliver to the listener harsh vocals while at the same time being completely comprehensible, which makes the album all the more dynamic

What else makes this album great is the drumming. It's not just crazy blast beats and it's not constant double bass kicking. It is simply technical, nothing short of technical. It just seems to flow along perfectly with the guitars while still being able to shine.

Finally, as I've said in most of the albums I've given a positive review to; I am a fan of the production on this record. Each instrument was captured on another level. They are distinguishable while at the same time not overpowering one another or the vocals.

When all of these elements come together you are left with only one thing. A truly great album. I have read those previous reviews and I respect your opinion because everyone can't like everything however, even if this album has a touch of the Gothenburg style but, that's what makes life interesting. They've done something truly wonderful here and I feel that this album should be given its moment in the sun.

3/4 Gothenburg...1/4 Technical - 60%

Jaxel, December 7th, 2004

This is my first introduction to this polish band, refered to me as a Technical death metal band. And they are, just not as prominent as lets say a Death album (Human, Individual...) or even an Illogicist album, it seems they were going for a more melodic death a la gothenburg, mixed with a scarce amount of technical death. The vocals(Marcin Urbas) reminds me of Johan Linstrand from The Crown, and they follow the usual melo-death attack, not bad but not wow. The guitars(Jacek Hiro) is the most interesting instrument as they have that technical spice in some places, altough i dislike those clean guitar parts spread throughout the album, some are pretty good. No wonder why this guy is touring with Decapitated as there 2nd guitarist...he is skilled to say the least.The drums well, they are simple and consistent, nothing groundbreaking. The bass follows the drums syndrome.

The first three tracks did almost nothing to me, with the exception of the second track Illusion Possessor, which is somewhat memorable. Then we get to the fourth track Soul Controllers, impressive. Here you can even point some obvious structures from Death's godly Human album, altought i cant spot any stolen riffs, you get a sense that they are somewhat there. If the album was in its entirely like this song, we will have a memorable masterpiece, instead the next song, we get more melo-Gothenburg sound. And so every songs goes on with the same idea, with the whole gothenburg sound mixing great riffings in some parts. Also i will like to point out the seventh track, Voices from the Past, as the only other standout for me, but this song is 99% instrumental (Only one vocal verse) and its the longest song on the album. Its gets a bit repetitive, but if you like the melody it follows, you'll become hooked. In the end this album should be tried by fans of the Gothernburg death and NOT for technical death fans, as you will be mostly dissapointed, as i was....

Great band becomes typical melodic crap - 35%

haikuholocaust, April 24th, 2004

Poland’s Sceptic are really one of the few melodic deathmetal bands that manage to maintain the brutality and atmosphere deathmetal should have. Sceptic’s true talent is creating interesting melodic DM that keeps you into every song, instead of nodding off to sleep after 1 minute of the second track (For examples of this melodic DM sleep induction, try listening to an entire Ablaze My Sorrow album – I defy you to do it). But wait… You’re probably expecting a glowing review after this intro. The reality, however, is that melodic DM is a genre that is perpetually boring and played out, so any band of the genre that can keep my attention is noteworthy in my eyes.

The newest Sceptic release, Unbelievers Script, certainly doesn’t disappoint those waiting for new material after 2001’s Pathetic Being. It kicks off strong, like any of their albums, offering crushing riffs and intricate solos. Now, let’s set things straight: I’m not one of those who were waiting for new material. I like Sceptic, and I stand by my intro, but I was content with their first two full lengths. I have a lot of complaints about this third release in comparison to the other two.

Unbelievers Script is rather simplistic. I’d say a good 70 percent of the album shows relatively no quality musicianship at all. The drums are boring and lifeless throughout the entire album. The vocals aren’t anything to write home about either, but they fit the music pretty well. The only good thing that remains (the drums were great on the first two albums) is the guitarwork. The intricate, nifty solos are all there, just like on any other Sceptic album. However, like I said, this third release is rather simplistic, so this grand guitarist really goes to waste, considering past accomplishments.

The album is such typical melodic DM, too. Sceptic’s first two releases were interesting and brutal and melodic and great. This release is just very formulaic with it simplistic songwriting, mediocre musicianship and obligatory acoustic interludes and instrumental track. This album will please any melodic deathmetal fan without question, but will it draw in “true” deathmetal fans like the first two Sceptic releases? No way.

Whereas Sceptic once was a good bridge between the deathmetal elitists and the melodic DM “whimps” because of aforementioned reasons, they now seem to be a typical sleep-inducing bore.

This album’s barely worth a download, but the first two (Pathetic Being and Blind Existence) certainly are worth both downloading and buying.