The most wonderful thing about creativity is that there is no fundamentally wrong way to approach it. As this applies to music, it means that a strict traditionalist approach to songwriting that adheres to the strictures of a particular genre is just as valid as one that throws all of the rules out the window. Want to start a project whose express purpose is to be an homage to a single, legendary band? Cool. Want to write a jazz-metal fusion record that features baritone saxophone? Also cool. The proof, they say, is in the pudding. So, do the multitude of musical ideas found on Fleshed Out, the new EP from Quebec City’s SCARE, congeal into a palatable sonic dessert? Let’s find out!
After a short, fittingly bad-ass dialogue clip from Once Upon a Time in The West, opening track “Lil Jon Vs Satan” kicks off with a lone guitar playing a burly, blues-rock riff that is eerily similar to the opening of Bionic’s “Turn You Out” right down to the placement of singer Philip Roy’s throaty, spirited scream before the rest of the band joins the action. The song’s rollicking, high energy rock’n’roll feel, juxtaposed with Roy’s high-register growl, evokes a touch of hardcore grit that lends the music a pleasing rawness quite reminiscent of Black Thunder-era Doomriders. Just after the tune’s midway point, the main riff resolves into a catchy clap-along section that wouldn’t feel out of place in one of the more radio-friendly Every Time I Die jams before the whole thing hits a brick wall in the form of a jarring, down-tempo chuggy breakdown. Normally I am all about abrupt stylistic shifts, but the particular rhythmic patterns used in this slower section ends up painting the entire affair with a Southern metalcore brush, and I don’t think this was SCARE’s intention.
The album does feature a number of moments where idea, intention, and execution line up quite well. The discordant attack from guitarists Jean-Francois Levasseur and Gabrielle Begin combined with drummer Francois Nicolas Fortin’s pounding, syncopated groove on title track “Fleshed Out” create a properly sludgy brew that is sure to make more than a few necks sore. Final track “Cropsey” demonstrates SCARE’s strongest songwriting and use of dynamic range, beginning with a nasty, Dopethrone-esque doom riff that adeptly transitions into the song’s speedy, driving main section.
That said, Fleshed Out would benefit from a broader sonic pallet. While the band demonstrates some solid sludge and doom chops on certain tracks, the tempo of the faster sections never surpasses a brisk jog. The slow burn of “Fleshed Out” would feel much more satisfying if the whole thing built towards a thundering, breakneck d-beat. (Oddly, “D-beat” appears as one of the genres listed on SCARE’s Facebook page, but the famed, syncopated gallop is sadly nowhere to be found on Fleshed Out). Also, Roy’s scream is a good fit for SCARE’s brand of noise, but it tends to stay on one note and would benefit greatly from a low-register counterpoint.
Fleshed Out is a solid debut record for a relatively young band. While there are some rough spots, the EP demonstrates a few great ideas and, more importantly, a willingness to experiment.
Written by Jesse Gainer
*edited by Kate Erickson