Album: Distances – EP
A body of bone, coated in layer upon layer of sinewy muscle and gallons of thick, hot blood. Scales and greasy skin interrupted by horns, spikes and bony protrusions—it is an amalgamation of every monster in every nightmare you have had since birth. In a single bite it is capable of devouring entire fleets, ending armies that have taken years to grow and train. It’s name is written sparsely in lore throughout the ages—and spoken in hushed, hurried tongues. It is Scylla, sibling of Charybdis and the scorn of Mariners worldwide—and more importantly, it is a miraculously talented progressive deathcore band hailing from the arid deserts of Arizona. Distances, the band’s sophomore EP, is a sampler of heavy music from just about every style imaginable. With lacerating speed, skin-shredding technicality and brutish bone-bending heaviness all in a succinct, supremely written five-track EP, Distances is a release that leaves the efforts of Scylla’s peers fighting for a Distant second.
Not many albums can claim to be a true grab-bag of styles and influences—especially when it comes to contemporary heavy music. Furthermore, the ones that can often come across as scattered, unfocused and directionless. Enter Distances, a five-track tour-de-force that provides rippling, serene atmosphere as readily as it crushes the listener beneath megatons of murderous heaviness. From Hamilton Door’s devastating percussion to the intense fretwork of guitarists Fidel Arellano and Ruben Daniel, Scylla are the very picture of dynamism, enthralling the listener with a comprehensive spectrum of diversity in a compact, crushing package. Door’s drumming is both fleet and flashy, opening “Distances” with flying feet and dotting “Descent” with lacerating blast beats. “Arise” plays to Door’s diversity even further—providing catchy, unconventional patterns that work excellently alongside Daniel’s driving, plunking bass tones. While Door’s drumming alone is an excellent testament to variety, the listener is plunged deeper into Scylla’s dynamic by Arellano and Daniel’s furious fretwork. The duo range from slam-tinted brutality (“Distances” and “Defeater”) to moments of breathtaking peace (“Arise”) and everything in between. Their talent is matched only by the awe inspired by their skill, as they are a defining factor in Scylla and all that the quartet accomplish.
Instrumentally, Scylla are impeccable. Creatively and capably providing a figurative smorgasbord of styles for heavy music fans to feast upon, the make-or-break factor for Distances’ resounding success rests squarely atop the shoulders of frontman Keenan Ferris. Fear not—for Ferris proves he is more than adept, furiously roaring atop the band’s sprawling musical canvas. Ferris is just as dynamic as the instrumentation that serves as his throne, dominating every track with soul-shredding low growls and embroidering them with flashy, ferocious shrieks. From the first syllables of “Distances,” the listener knows they’re in for a wild ride—a ride that, thanks to Ferris’ talent, may leave them damaged and tattered beyond repair. Accompanying Scylla’s sinister slams and scathing riffs on “Volvagia” with prowess and ease, yet scraping the listener’s ears like sandpaper alongside the defining breakdowns of “Defeater” and “Arise,” Ferris knows not the meanings of relent nor rest, giving the listener nothing but salvo after salvo of intensity.
If you picture heavy music as a color spectrum, Scylla are the entire rainbow. With breezy, blue hues of calm and collection dotting the space between ravaging red shades of skin-peeling fury, Distances not only does it all, but it does it better than the bulk of Scylla’s peers. When a guest appearance by Lorna Shore’s Tom Barber feels almost unnecessary, and five tracks feels like ten tracks too short, you know a band are doing something right—and in this case, it would be fitting to say Scylla are not only doing something right, they are doing very little wrong. While the production leaves the more atmospheric moments feeling slightly grittier than they should, it also amplifies the rough portions to a godly tier of terror—inspiring sentiments similar to Lorna Shore’s Psalms. The take home is simple: Scylla live up to their namesake not only in magnitude, but in lasting impression, providing a heavy music release that will survive the ages just as Homer’s Illiad and Odysseyhave.
For Fans Of: Lorna Shore, Oceano, God of Nothing, Beacons, Martyr Defiled
By: Connor Welsh