(DGR reviews the debut EP by Scour.)
There is no doubt that the reason the Scour EP and its mid-July release landed on most metal fans’ radar due to the presence of one Phil Anselmo trying his hand at extreme metal. Phil has proven himself to be a polarizing figure this year via one very particular scandal, and it is still not clear whether he thought he was being funny making a racist joke or if he is a fucking gigantic moron.
He seemed penitent enough when the inevitable backlash occurred, pretty much making it clear that if he was proving to be an obstacle to any of the bands he was in, he was willing to leave. But it makes you wonder if these events had any sort of effect on the lead-up to the Scour EP’s mid-July release.
I’m still not sure where I stand on the situation because I feel like every ‘hot take’ humanly possible has already been dished out in regards to the man and will likely continue to be for as long as he walks the Earth. It certainly didn’t make for a good look. What interests me is that at any other time the lead-off sentence to this review is what would’ve sold this EP.
It’s Phil Anselmo, plus a handful of musicians who have been playing extreme metal for years now. You have a lineup that includes people who have spent time in bands like Pig Destroyer, Conflux, Continuum, Cattle Decapitation, and more — not counting the vocalist himself. If Scour was put together for the sole purpose of finding people who could play the speediest, most death-metal, grind-heavy stuff possible, then the right crew was found, like handpicking an all-star team of death metal musicians.
In fact, Scour is one of those groups that, outside of the fact that you have the former Pantera vocalist fronting the project, would’ve been one to keep an eye on anyway. Instead, we have the interesting (on a cultural front) addition of Phil Anselmo to the lineup, attempting to prove that he can shriek it out with the best of them. So Phil, welcome to the extreme metal world, and allow me to register my bewilderment that there haven’t been a thousand metal bands named Scour by now.
One of the initial criticisms I saw levied at the Scour EP was that it was going to feel inauthentic: Phil was basically making a play at legitmacy by surrounding himself with some super-talented musicians and playing off of extreme metal’s reputation as one of the last bastions of being ‘dangerous’. The opening segments of “Dispatched” should probably wipe all of that off the map, as the band themselves basically start the EP in a full-blown battle of Armageddon and basically spend the rest of the thirteen-plus minutes of this EP going through different stages of the end times musically. In fact you could probably compare this EP to just listening to the sound of an endless artillary barrage, given the terrifying drum performance that takes place on this disc.
Scour is a lean six tracks, with one instrumental at track five, and with a short run time Scour paint themselves as being fairly unnaproachable — the vocal shrieks and howls alone, on top of the constant blast and bombing run present, at the very least put this EP pretty high up on any sort of metric scale of heaviness.
In fact, not to knock Phil’s impressively earnest attempt at hanging with the music behind him, but Scour would’ve been razor-wire sharp and bleedingly heavy with any person on the vocal front; so in some aspects, the band itself was already molten metal enough to melt through the Earth’s crust.
Phil himself keeps things fairly perfunctory — many of the songs are delivered in one- to three-sentence yelps and most of them top out with enough word variation that they could fit inside a text message. But the man is growling and screaming, and were you not told who was behind the mic, it would’ve taken some serious time to try and place just who that anguished howl belongs to. That right there was a pretty eyebrow-raising realization to have, so you can’t say anyone was mailing it in on that front.
If there is one place you could seriously fault Scour, it is that the EP feels like it came from one solid burst of songwriting — which is a strange criticism when spelled out, but hearing it, the EP feels like an exercise in permutations on the same general formula. Like a choose-your-own-adventure of extreme metal, you’ll recognize some parts from the start and others seem to return like musical motifs, making songs start to blur together.
You can recognize a lot of the tiles used, but in each song on the EP Scour attempts to reorganize them in a different way — all at neck-breaking velocity and super-high tempo. There’s no breathing room, but in that lack of breathing room also comes acceptance that this situation is what will be the norm. In a way, extremity comes very close to becoming mundane, and Scour at the very least cut it off right about the time where it seems like that is about to happen, just before you start to find comfort in the suffocating restraints and almost non-stop rattle-can blastbeats.
One of the benefits of keeping your songs at two minutes, and maybe a tad more if you’re feeling ambitious, is that you’re snappy enough that thoughts like this only start to intrude long after the opening strains of the last song. It was only on repeated spins that I really noticed the songs all having a similar sort of ‘tonality’.
With all the verbiage being heaped upon Scour, the long and short of it always comes down to the same damned question: Is it worth listening to? I’d say yes. I don’t mean for the previous paragraph to sound overwhelmingly negative — it’s not. I enjoyed my time with Scour and that’s one of the reasons right there: It’s really not asking for a whole lot of time. The Scour EP skirts about thirteen and a half minutes, and as something that might’ve landed on your radar as a musical curiosity, it is worth the trip. It honestly proved to be a pleasant surprise for someone who was initially skeptical on the whole project and was ready to give it a once-and-done. It’s not world-shattering, but it is a super-fast blast of hellfire.
In addition, the first few songs are shockingly intense. The disc basically starts at apocalyptic and stays there, so the opening songs might actually blow your hair back some. Finally, overall, Scour does work as a debut showpiece, it pretty much states exactly what the band will be about from moment one, and a chance to expand upon it could result in some excellent material. They’ve taken a handful of songs (that, granted, as pointed out above, are about the same general formula) and made them hyper fast blasters, and at the very least, the ride is fun.
Remember that Scour have some amazing musicians in their lineup, and instrumentally could whip out some fiery stuff in the future. The EP is enough of an appetizer to make me want to at least see where this bus is going.
Scour was released July 15 by Housecore Records.
This is a generally well written review and I agree with some of your points regarding the music somewhat running together and sounding as though it all came from a single songwriting session. But what the hell is all this “Phil trying to hang with/dip his toes in extreme music)” crap? I understand Pantera was a hugely successful band and he might have some glam roots, but Phil is extremity incarnate. His boundary pushing vocal work on albums like Far Beyond Driven and Great Southern Trendkill alone put most of today’s one dimensional grunters to shame. Not to mention the fact that he’s been involved with a million extreme metal side projects for decades and has his own label that finds and produces tons of varied, bizarre music. It’s not like the dude is fucking James Hetfield or something.
I think his work on the Scour ep is tremendous and sincerely hope they follow it up with a full length and let the concept breathe a bit more. Yes, his personal struggles with pain, addiction and “blurting out spiteful reductions of the human race” is lamentable, but I genuinely believe he wants to be a better man and will always keep trying to do so.
Was wondering the same, felt more like something you would read at MetalSucks, not this Metal site.
Phil has a number of bands in the past that were Black and Death Metal, including one with Satyr. That is just lazy journalism, I expected better NCS.
Even if you don’t agree with the article, I would have to say it is well written and I enjoyed reading it (like most articles I read around here). I also think Phil has been around the extreme world, but was he part of anything really worth listening? For me: no, not really. Sure, it’s just an opinion and it’s good that we all like different stuff.
But like Islander, I wasn’t expecting much from this project while reading the article, and was pleasantly surprised when started listening (and that’s what matters).
Comparing this site to MetalSucks is just lame and unfair. However, maybe you don’t know MetalSucks that well so you think they could actually write something like this. That’s a good thing. Keep it that way.
Anyway, agreeing or not with the article, these are just opinions and you should treat them like that. If you come to this website looking for guidance to your life, I think you’re missing the point. If you want guidance, go read a bible.
Unfortunately too familiar with MS. You’re right, that was a low blow though, I think this site is one of the better
sites that exist, from the bands they cover to the journalism. Still, credit should go where credit is due, but we all make mistakes, not a big deal.
I’m a little old to be seeking guidance from anyone, and the bible? No thanks.
I actually shouldn’t have mentioned the bible, since I’ve never read it so I guess I can’t criticize. Or maybe I can. You can’t tell me what to do! Leave me alone! I’m going to my room…
A) no it’s not
B) your expectations don’t exactly carry all that much weight
Oh no, you’re right on Phil’s effect on metal and it honestly was not my concern. In writing this I was very familiar in everything he does as well as his label – it was more an undercurrent I had seen voiced by the more snide side of the metal community. I brought it up because I think that Scour do a good job dismissing those ‘concerns’ in the opening seconds of Dispatched. Same with the idea of him being ‘welcomed to death metal’, that’s why I have the joking ‘how was scour not a million bands already’ line. I’m very aware that the sort of sardonic tone I write in gets lost a little bit once we go through the million grammar edits I have to do – so long story short; if it seemed mean it wasn’t meant to be, likely something lost in translation.
Correction, not my concern being voiced, not that his history wasn’t my concern. Typing these late and at work makes me look like a genius.
Somewhat repetitive but solid nonetheless!