Album: Oddball – EP
Typically a PG-rated version of more mature insults, Oddball is a bizarre descriptor for something unusual. Often likened to an amalgam of random things arranged in a haphazard heap, Oddball is a noun (or adjective) that doesn’t get much usage anymore—which is one of many things that makes ScapeGoat’s debut EP of the same name so alluring. Upon further investigation, Oddball is just that—a mashup of several styles of heavy music—however, rather than arranged without care, ScapeGoat use everything from bouncy, progressive elements to lacerating technicality to create a fluid, furious display of aggressive brilliance. A full-bodied, brutalizing experience, Oddball pummels the listener with punishing intensity and leaves them wondering what, exactly, to call Scapegoat when they frantically tell their friends about them.
Hailing from Metro Detroit, ScapeGoat is a crushing metalcore quintet that draw influences from across an entire spectrum of heavy music. Instrumentally, this is exceptionally evident throughout lengthy tracks like “Bloodletter,” or the EP’s nearly six-minute title track. At times bouncy and groovy, while shred-laden and technical at others, the fluid dynamic of ScapeGoat’s various styles rides upon the back of percussionist Thomas Mansell. Mansell is an engine of energetic drumming, utilizing quick, pulverizing blast beats and flashy fills to catch the listener’s attention—all mixed in with a foundation of fleet footwork and snappy, cracking snare hits. “Bloodletter” is a bustling display of Mansell’s talent, opening with a catchy groove that quickly drops into a neck-snapping breakdown, which sees Mansell synchronizing with bassist Danny Castronova to create a deafening low-end that dominates the mix. Castronova’s sole purpose throughout Oddball is to rumble atop Mansell’s meaty, thick kick drum and keep a hefty layer of grime beneath every riff, coating every crushing drum pattern. Castronova does this in “Bloodletter,” just as he does it in “Sapper” and “OneEightSeven,” with the latter being an appalling display of aggression that is reminiscent of a groovy B-Side from Barrier’s Dark Days. Tracks like “OneEightSeven” show off the bouncier, less frantic side of guitarists Anthony Beitel and Mitch Nicholas. Here, the duo utilize high, eerie leads over low, droning chugs to get caught in the listener’s head—where “Sapper” and “Bloodletter” both use dual dissonant chugs that spastically leap into shreddy, fast-paced riffs without warning. Beitel and Nicholas use that sort of sneak attack dynamic—as well as the occasional moment of melodic, relaxing bliss—to keep the listener on their toes, living up to the EP’s perplexing name.
With a style about as linear as a circle, Oddball is a fluid canvas which allows for an enormous variety of vocal styles—a variety that is effortlessly provided by frontman Tyler Dentry. Dentry is a devious, incredibly talented vocalist who hits unbelievable high screeches as ferociously as he nails grimy, low, growls. The introduction to “OneEightSeven” is evidence enough of that—as before the opening breakdown even hits, Dentry lets loose with deep grows, shrill screams and hefty mid-range barks. As ScapeGoat’s EP unfolds, Dentry refuses to slow down, filling every track (except the introduction) with an energetic vocal presence that works excellently with every style the band capture on their multifaceted debut. Dentry’s efforts are the cherry atop an already delicious display of metal-turned-deathcore, adding an extra element for the listener to fall head-over-heels in love with.
ScapeGoat’s debut EP is an excellent display of originality in a scene that desperately needs all the fresh blood it can get. Catchy, yet mind melting and heavy, yet melodic and moving, Oddball is an experience that is as captivating as it is crushing. From the eerie introduction to the last drawn out shout on “Dead Ends,” ScapeGoat keep the listener guessing—something exceptionally difficult to do given how crowded practically every sub genre of heavy music is. The product of experience, energy and aggression, Oddball is an angry, awe-inspiring onslaught of brutality that every fan of extreme music should familiarize themselves with instantly.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Ironsights, Oceano, Reflections, Sworn In
By: Connor Welsh