Saturday, July 12, 2014
…from void to void: THE SCIMITAR – ‘Doomsayer’
Whether it is a reincarnation, a reimagining, or simply an off-shoot project only time will tell, but The Scimitar’s aptly titled debut, ‘Doomsayer’, picks up where the Darryl Shepard incarnation of Black Pyramid left off. With low-end destroying Black Pyramid bandmate Dave Gein in tow and Brian Banfield on drums the trio have crafted a collection of tunes that, intentional or not, revolves around themes of detachment, false beliefs, and paranoia. Back this up with Shepard’s killer guitar tone and a tight, pummeling rhythm section and you end up with one of the best surprises of the year.
With seven tracks and a runtime at just over the thirty-minute mark ‘Doomsayer’ is a compact and focused release that has a surprising amount of variation including three instrumentals and a cover of Motorhead’s “Metropolis” that actually makes the original sound laid-back or even lethargic. The band’s take of “Metropolis” is spot-on—it’s aggressive, heavy, and faithful while having enough personality to stand on its own. Shepard also nails the vocals which, over the span of the album, display an impressive amount of versatility and character that wavers from gritty snarl to defiant bellows to occasional straight-forward “clean” singing.
Though ‘Doomsayer’ is unrelenting from start-to-finish, that isn’t to say that there aren’t some stand-out moments. Album opener “The Taker” is a battle cry declaring The Scimitar’s ascension. Shepard’s snarl is at its most acerbic and Gein’s pulsating basslines are among his catchiest. “The Taker” is a belligerent beast that ultimately slows to a doomed crawl. “Void Traveller” finds the band really displaying their chops with some Sabbath-inspired swing and, midway through the tune, some spacy guitar explorations held aloft by Gein and Banfield. “Crucifer”, another album highlight, is the perfect closer. By far the longest, and arguably heaviest track, “Crucifer” is an unrelenting behemoth that nears the nine minute mark. Heft, moments of speed, and virtuosity collide with what sounds like the trio simply jamming out brings ‘Doomsayer’ to its conclusion.
Right or wrong, Black Pyramid often draw comparisons to High on Fire—a comparison that The Scimitar probably won’t completely shirk either. While ‘Doomsayer’ fires on all cylinders with aggression—save for the brief acoustic instrumental “Attrition”—much of the album is rooted in doom metal and includes trippy passages that bring to mind Curse the Son’s masterpiece ‘Psychache’. While ‘Doomsayer’ is currently available on The Scimitar’s Bandcamp page the album is getting the vinyl treatment through Hydro-Phonic Records. Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger as this is one of the year’s finest…
Hydro-Phonic Records Store