SCARRED - Gaia/Medea
It’s strange how fast time flies by. I would not have believed that it’s been already four years since Scarred released their well received debut album New Filth Order. Back then they also deservedly won the local Metal Battle competition and, according to witnesses, left a more than just good impression at the Wacken open air festival.
In the short lived music business that we know today, four years is a long time, and lesser bands would have risked drifting into oblivion. Not so Scarred though, who must have worked really hard on their sound and orientation. Don’t get me wrong: I have always liked this band, especially their dynamic live shows, but I would never have expected such an impossible huge improvement to be possible with any band in the world.
The first thing that will strike your ears is the mighty production that gives the band a powerful surge that propels their music into even higher dimension. All of this wouldn’t mean that much though, were it not for the stellar instrumentation of the ten songs featured on the album. The quintet is firmly rooted in thrash metal, but they take care to sound neither old school nor contemporary. Instead they brew together their very own progressive take at the genre, reminding – if you really have to come up with comparisons – like a hybrid between Strapping Young Lad, Meshuggah and Nevermore. The parallels to the latter explain also the inclusion of a guest guitar solo by Attila Vörös who used to be a live member of the aforementioned band. Another guest slot is taken by Mike “Boerdi” Bertemes, vocalist of local death thrash bands Kraton and Dreadnought.
Let’s have a closer look at the musician. The two guitarists are not only perfect at shredding and soloing, but also have a harmonic interaction that will leave you speechless. The bass guitar isn’t satisfied by just providing the rhythmic backbone, but also adds its very own technical touches, and why not? If your bass guitar has six strings, you should have the right to play the same role as your typical guitar. The drummer does the impossible by keeping all this virtuoso madness together with ultra-fast blast beats for which no complex breakdown poses a serious challenge. The vocals are fiercely evil, full of vicious despair and fit well the bleak, desperate lyrics.
I don’t know if Gaia/Medea is a concept album, but there is a constant thread running through the songs, with the opener Gaia and the concluding twelve minute epic Medea bookmarking the album. The latter is one of the most impressive pieces of music that Scarred have come up with so far, but that shouldn’t mean that everything in between is of lesser value. Most of the time it’s really hard to summarise any single track as they are so chock full of ideas that you will need repeated listening sessions to unveil all their secrets… not that anyone would mind doing so. But Scarred have also two more accessible tracks, The Great Pan(dem)ic and The Knot, which should become fan favourites pretty soon. And while these two songs may feel a little too straightforward in the context of Gaia/Medea, they are a welcome relief from the other more demanding material.
Once the good hour of this superb album is over, you can’t help but realising that Gaia/Medea has written a new and important chapter for the local heavy metal movement. Never before has a Luxembourgish metal band sounded so powerful, fierce and progressive. I rarely believe that native bands deserve a maximum rating, as the international competition is just too big (not only geographically speaking). But Scarred have made the impossible possible, and if any one band from here deserves international success, it’s these five guys. Let’s hope that their technically demanding and progressive will find fans all over the world.