Scumpulse – Rotten Review

These Scottish scummies return with Rotten, their first full-length, almost a full four years after their debut EP, 2014’s By Design.

And in those four years, it turns out that not too much has changed…

Release date: February 23, 2018. Label: Gore House Productions
Like By Design, Rotten is built upon a black metal base, blended with notable dashes of crusty punk. From the opening of “Alba Gu Brath,” Rotten rips solidly at a frenzied pace, tossing tremolo riffs amidst chunkier chords, eschewing the icy atmospheres of its blackened brethren in favor of the focused fury of its punk lineage. It’s a stout stripped-down take on Immortal-esque arena-sized blackness, devoid of symphonic pomp or hypnotic drone or necro-kvlt posturing, all driven by Andrew Tactus’ spirited drumming, lifted skyward by Magnus Tait’s decidedly non-punk melo-shred soloing, and all while vocalist Ross Necro snarls and bites like a true corpse-painted Scandinavian wood-troll. The production is grimier, less cold and barren, though, in the end, all of Rotten remains recognizable as a primarily blackened affair.

Most importantly, Rotten rocks throughout, starting strong with “Alba” and the title track, and getting even stronger as it hits its stride with “Broken Reflection.” That song was previewed on a 2015 single, available here as a Name Your Price download, and it’s one of Rotten’s best, even if it’s at least three years old by now. From there, it’s even further upward to the gang-shouts of the killer “Gnawed By Pigs,” the vicious and Gordon Gekko-quoting “King Of Dogshit,” and the crustiest moments of “Pure Jakebawlocaust,” with its vocals traded between blackness and hardcore shout. Through it all, Tactus pushes the band forward at a breakneck pace, and Tait and Necro’s guitars weave those bleak tremolo melodies beneath the screams and shouts.

In the end of it, Scumpulse is a band whose inspirations are clear, and they take those building blocks and create something that, while not entirely new, is nevertheless exhilarating. On the whole, black metal bores me, largely when it’s mired in its own pretentious muck, and in true crusty fashion, Scumpulse strips that pretense away, leaving only the biting bark and dark melodic riffs behind. Truthfully, I will concede that Rotten isn’t really the kind of album that blows anyone’s mind – it is what it is, blackened punk, with an emphasis on the former. But if that blend is one that tickles your fancy, then Rotten IS the kind of album that will get your head banging, your feet moving, your beer in your hand, your fist in the air, your mouth open in a smile, a shout, a screaming along with whatever the hell “Pure! Jake! Bawl! O-Caust!” even means… And really, who cares what it means, when it’s presented with this kind of energy, this punchy riff-heavy focus, this filthy snarling, shouting, scuzzy, scummy pulse…?

After all, no one ever said spiteful punky blackness can’t be fun, too.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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