After a reformation of their original line-up in 2017, Texas based metalcore outfit Scarlett O’Hara are back with their first studio effort since 2010. ‘Welcome Back To The Brodeo’ is nothing if not a throwback to that era; a time when metalcore was dominant, and its peddlers were a dime-a-dozen.
Since then, many of those bands have fallen by the wayside whilst those who have endured have typically evolved and broadened their horizons. However, with their comeback LP, Scarlett O’Hara have delivered a competent album that unfortunately remains somewhat myopic in scope, failing to escape the confines of the tropes of its genre.
The eponymous opening track throws us into proceedings with the percussive riffing and feral vocal delivery that have long been the foundations of this style of music. The structure of the track, heavy and hard hitting for the most part before transitioning into a cleaner, hookier passage for the last minute or so, is oft-repeated over the course of the record. Whilst the approach is effective for the most part it borders on the formulaic.
Despite this, the likes of ‘Locked From Within’ and ‘Until Next Time’ produce some very catchy and enjoyable hooks, and both Eddie Cano and guitarist Logan Burns more than deliver on the vocal front.
A carnival theme runs through the album. One would assume that this would lead to a darkly-tinged sense of fun and levity manifesting itself in the lyricism and instrumentation, but whilst songs that reference the concept are peppered across the track list, they fail to convey the imagery in a meaningful way.
The one exception to this sorely wasted opportunity is instrumental interlude ‘Tristeza’, which finds itself sandwiched between two strong but conceptually unrelated numbers, and ends up feeling isolated and discordant as a result. A solid thematic identity would give the album the personality and flow necessary to lift it clear of mediocrity.
In an era where bands like Code Orange and Vein are pushing the boundaries of heavy music, and long established metalcore acts like Parkway Drive and Bury Tomorrow have augmented their studio output and gained wider appeal by branching into other metallic genres, it’s questionable whether there’s still a place for a well put together but ultimately run-of-the-mill metalcore album of this sort.
Scarlett O’Hara are back on their feet and doubtlessly possess the talent to produce music that excites and inspires, but if they’re to compete in today’s market of musical ideas they need to find their own distinctive sound and stamp their personality on their work rather than fall back on the hallmarks of a genre that has become maligned and overdone since they went on hiatus.