There are few experiences more satisfying than discovering a band displaying great potential early on and seeing it realized within an unreal time frame. In the three years since Scorched chunked out their phenomenal self-titled demo they’ve proven remarkably ambitious in creating further brutality with each crack at their classic horror inspired old school death metal. ‘Scorched’ (2015) might’ve been above average, and remains one of the best death metal demos in recent memory, but there was no real hint of great ambition apparent from the outside looking in when ‘Echoes of Dismemberment’ (2016) landed. Scorched appeared average on their full-length debut from the blurry Developing Nations production to the completely befuddling decision to not include a new version of “Caverns of Catharsis”, it was a small disappointment with a few incredible tracks. The project’s second demo ‘Hymns From the Cellar’ (2017) appears to have been recorded as a quartet and despite a marked focus on both clarity and brutality there was some lingering doubt that the sequel would be any better than the original.
The right staff is key in any musical venture but an inspired vision holds up regardless of the hands pawing at its realization. That is to say that the icing on the bloody cake of ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ is that Scorched were backed by an amazing team in realizing and releasing their finest recordings to date; From their on-a-roll label (20 Buck Spin) to the more than capable suite of services offered by Arthur Rizk these Delaware mutants appear well-backed and gorgeously rendered. The sound of this damn thing is impressive as Rizk‘s treatment of Scorched emphasizes the cavernous oppression of their live sound but lifts Steve Fuchs‘ lead guitar work right in the middle of the fray where it belongs. The clarity on offer here is comparable to what Charlie Koryn achieved on the most recent Torture Rack record but still allows the atmospheric value of ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ to shine beyond pure groove, which I think was the key issue with the bass-drowned ‘Echoes of Dismemberment’.
In stepping up their sound Scorched have swapped in a new rhythm guitarist (Federico Dimarco) and with this new capability seem intent on eclipsing previous works. ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ leaps off of the brutality of ‘Hymns From the Cellar’ towards greater thrill-seeking barbarity with tighter knit rhythms so convincing I’d almost just as well toss out my old Broken Hope and Baphomet records. Whatever black magic it took for vocalist Matt Kappa to discover the deeper-still recesses of his lungs was worth effort as his performance is imposing and sinister enough to avoid the sort of uh, stupid-assed blunt tonality of similarly brutal performances throughout death metal history. He appears right on the verge of a Demilichian gasping burp at times but never goes full retard and stays closer to Rottrevore‘s Mark Mastro on ‘Iniquitous’ or Sinworm from Decrepitaph. Where ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ shines over successive listens lies more in the details and less in the complete statement of the album.
If ‘Echoes of Dismemberment’ had a moment it was probably “Fluorescent Hell” and in contemplating the successes of ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ I would say that it contains a set of songs that uphold that level of energy and interest throughout. Though I miss some of the sort of Carpenter and Mandfredini-esque interludes of their previous work, Scorched communicate the brutal sci-fi horror themes of their second album through the mania of their guitar work. “Bodies Collect” recalls the early 90’s terror first found on their self-titled demo and a rousing ‘Scream Bloody Gore’ sort of lead to start “Barbarous Experimentation”, but it is “Blood Splatter Eclipse” that truly sets the scene in dark space. Beyond that major point of interest Scorched‘s guitar duo appear as greater experts in crafting riffs that both please old school death/thrash attuned tendencies but, less in tribute to old masters and more in service of memorable bludgeoning.
The first standout is probably “Disfiguring Operations” where the halfway point stops to smell the 90’s groove in the midst of a track that is largely a rabid hurricane of brutal death. Though “Bodies Collect” and “Mortuary Nightmares” are clear winners as well I almost have to hand it to the last three tracks on ‘Ecliptic Butchery’ for keeping the momentum of the album going and not serving as filler or redundancy. With that said I would consider “Exhibits of Torture” as fairly superfluous when it appears and perhaps the only track that could have taken a hike. Though I had high hopes and tempered expectations I was pretty easily won over by Scorched‘s second album, it is an easy listen that showcases how effective old school brutality can be when it is delivered with spirited energy and thoughtful variation.
Surrendering to death. 4.5/5.0
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