Death metal/thrash revivalism really sticks folk on one side of the fence or the other. Not every one can be Gruesome or Toxic Holocaust, after all. It’s unfortunate but probably quite telling that the “old school” bands don’t really get up to much of anything now – or are all now firmly positioned within dad or butt rock areas – leaving it up to death thrashers like Scaphism to doll out the rowdy death metal riffs and thrashy numbers. Finally finding their feet after several years and with second full length Unutterable Horrors, Scaphism do a pretty okay job of mixing the two favourite genres of denim vest-leather jacket combo fans.
Unutterable Horrors gets one thing so, so right. Sitting somewhere in the perfect middle ground of production between late 80’s thrash and somewhere in the 90s death metal, the live band dynamic pleases immensely. Deep, clunky bass rumbles tirelessly behind really cutting tones from the remaining strings; with enough clarity for the precise death metal riffing of “Malapropos Cardiectomy”, one of the stand out tracks. When Scaphism do the death it reeks somewhat of Cannibal Corpse and old ass Sepultura. The drums are beaten militantly, the grooves and stabs of death metal whip violently and everyone’s a winner. Except for anyone who misses the couple of tracks that actually hit this.
For the most part, Scaphism trudge along in no man’s land. It’s quick to find a pattern in Unutterable Horrors after the opening title track crashes to a stop. With few surprises and not enough grit and grime, the record quickly falls into tired pitfalls of chug after double time after chug. This wouldn’t be enough to really dip the thumb towards the floor, normally. The vocals are another point of concern. Not really a raspy high or a mid level scream, the majority of the vocal delivery matches the album’s title. When the lows blow out, everything is gravy and the riffs can flow. For the most part, the atypical death metal delivery distracts instead of demonstrating value.
While never as arduous as the torture method the band chose as a moniker, Unutterable Horrors doesn’t dish out much pleasure either. Flashing bursts of imposing death metal struggle to elevate a record that chugs along at a comfortably macabre speed, slowed down further by some bold but disappointing vocal choices. Some parts of thrash and death metal go hand in hand together, that’s why we still have Slayer. Scaphism lean on too many of the tried and tested methods without ever breaking too much ground in the gap between the styles. When it gets grim, this record bounces. That just doesn’t happen enough. Enjoyable to a point, but like many band teetering between two grumpy old man genres, Scaphism didn’t find the balance on this one.
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Unutterable Horrors is available 1/12/18 via Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.