Metal’s Past and Present Collide
No one’s ever accused Phil Anselmo of being lazy. Currently, he’s an active member of Down and Superjoint Ritual, as well as brand new black metal supergroup Scour. Though Scour seems to be more of a side project for Anselmo, this is neither his first side project nor black metal band. His bandmates, however—Derek Engemann (Cattle Decapitation), John Jarvis (Pig Destroyer), Jesse Schobel (Strong Intention) and Chase Fraser (Continuum)—come from a primarily death metal background. It shows in Scour’s songs, but the influence they take from other subgenres creates a dynamism that feels genuinely heavy rather than distracting from the authenticity integral to a successful black metal band.
Anselmo’s past black metal projects include Christ Inversion and Viking Crown, both of which feature lo-fi production and plenty of weird sounds and ideas that an uninformed listener would likely think them to have been recorded in some kid’s bedroom than by a heavy metal superstar. Anselmo contributed to both bands under the occult-influenced moniker Anton Crowley, but is using his birth name in Scour. Whether or not this choice was intentionally meant to signal a difference between his past and present black metal bands, Scour is tight and well-produced, placing them in dialog with Anselmo’s primary projects more so than his bizarre black metal bands of the past.
Hypnotic tremolo picking and relentless drumming are the backbone of almost every track on the album, as is typical of the genre. “Tactics,” which is an industrial track, as well as breakdowns in “Clot” and “Tear Gas” that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nails album, change up the pace, and prevent the album from sounding like just one of many typical black metal releases. This is important when many of the genre’s heavyweights date back to the nineties. The album itself is runs just under 15 minutes, but this is to its benefit, leaving listeners wanting more rather than feeling fatigued. Many extreme metal or hardcore bands have trouble carrying a full-length album due to either a repetitive sound or lack of novel ideas, and while this may or may not be the case for Scour, the short length adds to the album’s listenability.
Due to the band’s impressive pedigree and quality songwriting, what sounds like a niche album on paper will likely appeal to a very wide audience by managing to at once be true to its black metal roots, as well as maintain a wide appeal by incorporating elements from a much wider cross-section of influences. Fans of Anselmo and other band members’ projects, as well as anyone with an interest in extreme metal will find something to appreciate on this album.