Some people would argue there are more than enough “comedy” metal bands and that we don’t need any more.
The power of the riff has, over the years, been combined with deliberately silly lyrics and blatantly daft wigs by the likes of Bad News, Spinal Tap, Steel Panther and Bring Me The Horizon. Sadly there is only so far you can take a joke no matter how well executed it is. A band still needs to write songs that resonate beyond the closing of the doors at the end of the gig.
Having been a fan of these corpse-painted miscreants, otherwise known as Evil Scarecrow, as a live experience for many years I have to say that their early recorded work such as ‘Crowcifiction’ left me a little cold. Although there were some superbly crafted lyrics, courtesy of Dr Evil, the songs themselves were average fare, which meant that without the onstage antics there was no real lasting appeal.
Subsequent albums have showed rapid progress and with an increasing live presence at festivals and gigs over the last few years they have gelled as a unit and started to really nail the whole songwriting lark. As Paul Stanley once said “You can’t put flash bombs and smoke on a record” – nor indeed party poppers and tin foil cyborgs for that matter.
So, when listening to this latest opus horriblis in the confines of your home, car or dungeon – is it entertaining?
Is it any good?
This is the album I have been wanting them to make since I first saw them baffle, enthrall and deafen an audience in a small London pub many dark moons ago. It is not carried by silliness (although there is more than enough mirth to keep me grinning like a recently lobotomised bonobo) but by the tunes. This is not a comedy album. This is a great big shiny slab of ferocious metal with some wry and occasionally daft lyrics peppered throughout.
The opening bombast of ‘Rise’ is a wonderful Dimmu-esque salvo, delivered with the necessary po-faced conviction of a band that is none-more-metal – whilst a glance at the lyric sheet reveals a wonderful parody of the defiant and vainglorious chants that litter so many choruses these days.
What is also immediately noticeable (and would you expect anything else with his pedigree) is how fantastic they sound with Russ Russell at the helm. The guitars are fierce, the drums are thunderous and the entire mix manages to achieve that perfect oxymoronic singularity of “everything louder than everything else” without any one contributor ever fading into the mix.
Princess Luxury continues to be the ace up their sleeve with swathes of pompously symphonic keyboards and moody sonorous highlights that enhance the music at every turn without ever overpowering or smothering the guitars. Brother Pain and the good (bad?) Doctor have really upped the ante in terms of their lead work too, with some wonderfully composed and genuinely memorable solos.
With tracks like ‘Crabulon’, ‘Enter The Knightmare’ and ‘Frankingstein’s Mirror’ (even the most basic idiot knows that the monster isn’t called Frankingstein. It’s obviously Dr. Frankingstein) they sound more assured of themselves and determined to branch out from the novelty act mold that so many want to cast them in.
I suspect a good number of folks who enjoyed their groundbreaking set at this year’s Bloodstock will only know them from festivals and view them as a joke band, to be enjoyed with a beer as punctuation to the lengthy list of sullen angst-ridden headbangers playing before and after, and therefore may not be interested in owning an album by the Nottingham ne’er-do-wells.
To those who think Evil Scarecrow are a comedy troupe only to be enjoyed on stage – well maybe they were several years ago – but now they’ve gone and spoiled it by creating a genuinely fantastic record.