It’s hard to go into this, the eponymous debut album from Joey Jordison‘s side-project, Scar The Martyr, without some preconceptions. Slipknot are a band that loom large in the hearts and minds of modern metal fans, so knowing that the jump-suited #1 from Iowa’s angriest sons sits upon the drum throne certainly does something to raise expectations, nevermind the considerable pedigree of the other members of the band (Nine Inch Nails, Darkest Hour, Strapping Young Lad). But, like the glam-punk curveball of previous side-show The Murderdolls, Scar The Martyr presents an unexpected if slightly less polarising side of the Slipknot sticksman that provides its own brand of metallic thrills.
But enough about past glories, what does this unholy alliance sound like? The album leaps straight in with ‘Blood Host’, a muscular and melodic nu-metal helter-skelter into the underworld, providing enough momentum to carry the listener through the sludgy groove and chug of ‘My Retribution’ and ‘Soul Disintegration’. Slipknot this is not, with gothic synth punctuation the slick riffs, while Henry Derek Bonner delivers his vocals with swagger, if not show-stealing power. Everything is played with a satisfying looseness that is emphasised by a production that highlights the melodic lines, leaving Jordison to drive the rhythm section of this considerable engine.
There are hooks, too. ‘Cruel Ocean’ may feel like a relic of the 00s thanks to a healthy slice of camembert in its keyboard-led intro, but the uplifting chorus and sweeping solo are enough to make you pine for the days when Drowning Pool and Mudvayne ruled the roost. ‘Anatomy Of Erinyes’, meanwhile, brings Scar The Martyr firmly back into the present, allowing Bonner to explore the extremes of his voice. The band play with relentless force, but always with an ear turned towards a satisfying melodic line, characterising STM‘s sound far more closely with that of Avenged Sevenfold and Disturbed than any of the band members’ previous acts.
Scar The Martyr‘s debut effort is an enjoyable sum of interesting parts, but fails to reach the levels of its lineage, which admittedly would be a tall order indeed. As it stands, these 14 tracks provide a shameless trip from the sleek crunch of modern melodic metal to the grimy stomp and sway that made nu-metal the irrepressible heavyweight of last decade’s scene.
Written by Grant Bailey