Album: God is Dead – EP
It sweeps over the entire world—like a cloak made of disease, a shadow of pestilence—devouring every soul it touches. Every head it invades is reduced to rubble; each set of ears incinerated unto ash. It leaves no man standing and no woman’s womb fertile. It is a poison more pure than hemlock and more lethal than arsenic. It hails from the murderous pits of Melbourne, Austrlia—it is the latest EP by the aptly titled and eviscerating outfit, Scourge. Running amok in the ears of any heavy music enthusiast, Scourge’s long-awaited 2017 release, God is Dead, is as punishing and blunt as one might think based on the direct and devastating tone set by the title. Combining riff-driven death metal, heavy hardcore’s penchant for punchy two-steps, black metal’s love of all things dark and atmospheric and just a little bit of a subtle, unique and surreal nuance that makes Scourge unapologetically themselves, God is Dead is a ferocious display of aggression that uses everything from immense breakdowns, soul-splintering slams and skin-ripping riffs to inflict misery, God might be dead, but Australian heavy music has never felt more alive.
While their about section on Facebook might read “we sacrificed musical skill in the interest of being heavy,” that is only a partially true statement. Sure—Scourge excel, above all else, at being heavy—but that isn’t the only thing the band bring to the table. Combining styles of metal and –core music from across the spectrum, God is Dead is a showcase of excellent songwriting, interesting instrumentation and the use of pure, belligerent aggression in a way that keeps the listener coming back for more. Songs like the blitzing introductory number, “Golgotha,” see percussionist Michael Lum ripping at ludicrous speeds between portions of pure, pummeling misanthropy. Lum’s drumming might not be the technical picture of perfection, but it captures a raw, frenzied energy that gives God is Dead it’s primal, bloodthirsty fury. Lum continues this trend—even on the brutalizing “Revelations,” which ends in a manner of fire-and-brimstone befitting the Old Testament style oppression that Scourge so proudly boast. All the while, as Lum hammers away with either speed or skin-melting, insanely slow and sludgy candor, guitarists Wojtek Tomczyk and Liam Brown are absolutely ruthless. “Vicar Ov Christ” is an excellent example of this—taking the momentum of “Golgotha” and using it to induce a pure trainwreck of hatred and heaviness upon the listener. Their talents take twists and turns, however: where “Vicar ov Christ” sees Tomczyk and Brown using odd leads and grisly grooves to create bizarre, demented—but energetic—two-steps, “Revelations” includes a segment of out-of-the-blue classical guitar (which may be positive or negative, depending on how much the listener likes surprises) that leads into the closing salvo of Godless insanity the EP boasts. Beneath the diverse, engaging and cripplingly intense fretwork, Tomczyk provides studio written and recorded bass—taken over by Thomas Gregory after the fact—that adds depth and heft to every second, making the atmospheric portions of “Worm Cvlt” as haunting as the hellish portions of “…And Then There Was Fire” infernal.
Infernal is a good way to describe the intensity that defines God is Dead—an evil, unholy and blasphemous furnace of fury—and that is as true of Scourge’s musicianship as it is of the band’s frontman, Dane Evans. Evans’ voice is dynamic and devastating from start to finish, even with the appearance of some interesting guests throughout the album. Evans uses bold, ferocious low growls in contrast with a gritty mid-range yell that occasionally peaks at a high screech to keep the listener immersed in his tales of Godless, unholy abandon, doing it exceptionally well. Spending much of his time at the lower and middle-ranges of his range, songs like “Golgotha” and “Revelations,” even with its acoustic portion, are still monstrous thanks to Evans’ visceral intensity. The immense “Vicar Ov Christ” sees Evans at the top of his game, however. Where other songs see his range in rare form, his endurance or stamina isn’t always top-notch, often leaving portions empty where they could otherwise be full. “Vicar Ov Christ,” however, puts other tracks to shame, as his roars and relentless vocal candor crashes head-on into his dynamism and range—hitting pure gold where his vocal talents are concerned.
Even with some over-atmospheric points (Scourge are, above all else, pissed and punishing—atmosphere doesn’t always suit their aim), God is Dead is a great release, through and through. While it might not be groundbreaking in most ways, it is almost literally groundbreaking in how unwieldly and insanely aggressive it is; and given the band’s tongue-in-cheek opening statement on their social media pages, that might be exactly what they’re trying to bring to the listener’s head. Uncompromising in its approach to belligerent heaviness and unapologetic in the trauma it induces, God is Dead uses heavy hardcore, death metal, deathcore and more to rain down fire and brimstone most brutal upon the listener’s head.
For Fans Of: Honest Crooks, Bodysnatcher, A Night in Texas, Genocide District
By: Connor Welsh