Sunday 22 September 2019


Proto -metal, the sub-genre that once bridged the gap between the heavy blues of the mid to late 60's and the steadily growing metallic heaviness of the 70's was, and still is, considered mainly the territory of American and British bands however in recent years proto-flavoured metal has seen somewhat of a resurgence in popularity and with that resurgence the emergence of bands from as far afield as Malaysia and Peru. Russia may not be considered as exotic as those two just mentioned but the proto bug is endemic there too and runs feverishly hot through the veins of a little band going by the name of Scarecrow, a proto doomic combo from  the Russian province of Perm who have just released their self-titled debut "Scarecrow" via Bandcamp.

Scarecrow grew up listening to a soundtrack of 70's British heavy rock but are also quick to cite classical, folk and psychedelic music as major influences in shaping their sound, this heady mixture of musical styles combined with a penchant for throwing in sampled sound bytes of tolling bells and animal noises does tend to steer the bands sound towards the Sabbathesque but let's be honest when has that ever been a problem. Having said this first track "Scarecrow Overture", a haunting orchestral piece that would not sound out of place as the soundtrack to a horror movie, is as probably as far away from Sabbathesque as it is possible to get. Cello's and violins stand aside for more traditional rock instrumentation for next track "The Journey" and here we get the full "proto" treatment with Scarecrow nailing down, replete with searing guitar solos and parping harmonica, a groove that could easily be mistaken for being an outtake from Sabbath's first album if it were not for the vocalists high wailing, Burke Shelley (Budgie) meets Geddy Lee (Rush), vocal stylings. "The Final Problem" follows and although has a tint of proto doom about it leans more towards the blues, albeit a very dark and heavy blues. Next up is "When The Powers Of Evil Are Exalted" and here is where Scarecrow begin to show us their psychedelic side with lilting flute weaving and wending its magic around lysergic textured guitar colouring, huge booming bass and a mixture of busy and laid back percussion. "Worms Of Anger" finds Scarecrow jamming a more old school hard rock groove that recalls  distant memories of listening to UK's so called "second division" bands May Blitz and Stray. Things take a turn for the tranquil with "Autumn Wood" a beautiful laid back and chilled semi-ballad with a mix of folk and jazz undertones. Things return to some semblance of normality with "Madman" a mid tempo tome around which orchestral flourishes trade off with low slung doomic riffs and rhythms, the singer telling a harrowing tale of getting "lost in hallucination" and being "caught in a tragic situation". Title track "Scarecrow" closes proceedings and once again utilises orchestral elements to enhance its sonic impact, the song beginning with haunting lone piano then slowly building in layers until finally exploding into a fully fledged, traditional flavored, doom monster decorated in swirling guitar solo's and soaring vocal colouring, the song a fitting finale to a superbly crafted album.

"Scarecrow" is an outstanding debut that not only nods its head towards the giants of the rock age, like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but also those lesser giants that nipped constantly at the bigger giants ankles, acts like Iron Claw, May Blitz, Budgie and Warhorse, To do this yet at the same retain your own identity and sound fresh, vital and of today is a feat well worth applauding.
Check 'em out ….

© 2019 Frazer Jones

No comments:

Post a Comment