Album: The Afterthought
How many times have you acted on impulse only to regret it almost instantly? The second those words left your mouth, smashed that “send” button, threw that punch—you instantly wished for those seconds back. Oh, if you’d have had just one more second to give that action just a little more thought.
But you can’t. Your actions—and the actions of everyone—are, to a degree, irreversible. You can “delete” comment threads, you can make amends, bandage wounds and egos alike, but you can’t make those actions truly un-done. This means the importance of balancing precision and passion is paramount—and that’s exactly what Michigan progressive metalcore act ScapeGoat do to a tee. Taking elements of grating, raw, writhing groove and refining it with equal amounts hectic, hellishly hot hatred and subtlety, atmosphere and ambience, the band continue the diligent trek they embarked upon with Oddball to create fresh, energetic and invigorating aggressive music that blends intensity, power, punishing heaviness with raw, ruthless grit effortlessly, making it’s addition to any heavy music lover’s collection not even worth a second thought.
ScapeGoat see themselves standing out among the Michigan—and really, Midwestern—music scene with their odd, balanced-but-varied combination of elements ranging from post-rock and progressive metal to deathcore, groove and specklings from everything in between. The core of the band is percussionist Thomas Mansell, whose work on The Afterthought is just as bouncy and booming as it was on Oddball. His patterns and flashy fills on lead single “Compromised” is immense and entertaining both—while his versatility on “Sugar Cuba” or “The Afterthought” is commendable and creative. Mansell uses everything from lacerating blasts (“Changing of the Seasons” and “No Guilt”) to bouncy, fun sounding footwork (“Compromised”) to ethereality and subtlety (“Vessel”) and just about everything in between, working with bassist Danny Castranova to create a sprawling foundation for the band to work from. While Castranova might not be an over-the-top, notice me! Type of bassist, his work is crucial to making sure The Afterthought flows are excellently as humanly possible. Whether it’s “Changing of the Seasons” or “Sugar Cuba,” his work gives thickness and intent to Mansell’s percussion, all while giving a base for guitarists Mitch Nicholas and Anthony Michael to craft crushing, beautiful anthems from. Nicholas and Michael are magnificent and the truest manifestation of Scapegoat’s amalgam of progressive and punishing elements. Songs like “Compromised” are go-for-the-throat heavy and purely pissed, but “Sugar Cuba” is a sinister combination of the band at their heaviest and at their most well-thought out, with structure a plenty that doesn’t interfere with Nicholas and Michael’s ability to put parts of themselves into every note they play. All in all, the group function as a well oiled machine—but make no mistake—they’re as far from machine as you can get, with the infernal intensity and poignant, penetrating and pervasive bitterness giving The Afterthought a very carnal and human edge.
The Afterthought is a much more mature venture than ScapeGoat’s debut—this is evident not only in their musicianship and instrumentation, but in the band’s dynamic and aggressive vocal effort. Frontman Tyler Dentry is diverse in his approach to songs like “Sugar Cuba” and “Compromised,” wherein he utilizes everything from raw, rough-around-the-edges mid-range yells and shrill, piercing screeches alike. Meanwhile, “Changing of the Seasons” sees his baseline gruff scream dip into a grisly, deep tone that raises hairs on the listener’s arms and back alike. Towards the tail end of the release—really in tracks after “Sugar Cuba,” Dentry’s range embraces a more ethereal underpinning, bringing in lofty, spacey and sustained yells that oscillate with styles from across the vocal spectrum. While there might not be a moment on The Afterthought where the listener feels truly wowed by Dentry’s vocals, there is certainly not a moment where they are bored, in keeping with the bands ability to blend various different styles of heavy music together into a fun and relatively engaging tapestry.
Where The Afterthought’s only real fault lies is in its replay value and lasting impact. Now while this does largely need the explored more into the months-and-months out from release timeline, it doesn’t take too many listens for the listener to instantly skip to the tracks that really hit them hard—whether it be the grisly conclusion to “Sugar Cuba,” the beauty within “Best Kept Secret” or “Compromised” in all its glory. Is that bad? No, not really—its fine to develop favorite tracks—but it does leave some tracks (“Medicine Man,” “ The Afterthought”) out in the cold, so to speak. In the end, the band have achieved something excellent—capturing what made their EP Oddball so special and maturing it into something dynamic, fresh and different from a lot of what’s pouring into the saturated cistern that is heavy music. While it’d be of the band’s benefit to see a slightly more well-rounded and equally engaging release in the future, this is ScapeGoat’s first full-length release—and a damn good one at that.
For Fans Of: Barrier, Altered Perceptions, Extortionist
By: Connor Welsh