Saturday, July 16, 2016

Album Review: Scour - "Scour"

In the HP Lovecraft classic short story “Dagon,” the narrator, when he first sees the entire breadth and fearsome countenance of the nightmarish creature he perceives, tells the reader “I think I went mad then.”  Among some metal fans, there is a perception that something of this nature happened to Phillip Anselmo somewhere along the way.

With this as the backdrop, his new side project Scour has released a six-track EP of the same name that sees Anselmo join forces with heavyweights from Pig Destroyer, Cattle Decapitation and Decrepit Birth, among others.

Scour’s debut effort goes by in a blur – the entire thing can be listened to in roughly twenty minutes, and that’s if you get a break to grab a glass of water or go to the bathroom in the middle.  What we’re faced with here is six bite-sized samples of a grand new experiment from Phil and his friends, where the central question seems to be ‘what would it sound like if Phil Anselmo sang for a black metal band?’

The answer to that question, in short, is ‘not great.’  At the risk of sounding patronizing, these are very experienced musicians who have stood on the shoulders of popular success to varying degrees, so it’s hard to unilaterally condemn Scour as an experiment among friends.  That said, the EP is exceptionally raw and each song ends before there’s really a concept of what’s going on in the first place.  Each cut mixes together elements from several different types of extreme metal genres – black, death, grind whatever you want to call it, but it doesn’t do anything especially interesting with them, especially at under three minutes a piece.

Phil is, one supposes, a perfectly acceptable vocalist for this style, and is made even more convincing if you heard the album first and don’t know it’s him – the automatic mental associations with Pantera and Down can skew the perception of the vocals.  For Scour, Phil takes on a whole (well, he’s still load and abrasive, so not quite whole,) new persona as a vocalist, but it doesn’t make a great impact one way or another on the quagmire of low-res sound underneath.

This is the freedom of owning your own record label, I suppose.  Phil can release Scour to his heart’s content under the Housecore Records name, and the only record exec who has to clear it is him, so that’s fairly open and shut.  Still, there’s an element of the Metallica/Lou Reed release “Lulu” about Scour; if Phil and his friends (singling out Phil over the others because he owns the label, after all,) want to have a jam session and experiment with some new sound, that’s all well and good, more power to them.  That doesn’t mean it needed to be public, though.

“Dagon” ends with the narrator saying “The end is near. I hear a noise at the door…It shall not find me…The window! The window!”  Scour may elicit this reaction in some listeners.

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