It’s evil, demonic stuff, to be sure.
Scour is a supergroup of sorts, comprised of members who’ve spent time in Pantera, Down, Superjoint, Arson Anthem, Cattle Decapitation, Pig Destroyer, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Decrepit Birth, Misery Index and Animosity.
Thus, it’s obvious just from the name(s) that this quintet – Philip Anselmo, John and Adam Jarvis, Derek Engemann and Chase Fraser – traffics almost exclusively in over-the-top intensity. But look closer and the meaning behind the group’s name is revealed. Scour strips away most of the defining traits of its parts: the groove of bands Anselmo’s been in, the left-field hooks and melodicism of Cattle Decapitation, the technical wankery and progressive nature of Decrepit Birth and the unhinged psychopathy of Pig Destroyer. More so than most bands represented by its members, this is music that’s meant to cleanse and purify.
To accomplish this, their first six-song, 14-minute EP from last year – either self-titled or called Grey, depending on where you look – saw the architect behind the mayhem, Cattle Decapitation guitarist Derek Engemann, create warp speed death metal riffs resembling someone rapidly revving a car engine, and violently flailing leads representing that car crying out in pain, over a volatile rhythm section capable of tearing itself apart at any moment. Imagine a coked-out, The Mask-era Jim Carrey on a homicidal rampage and you’re close.
With Red, Scour has all but created a two-minute-longer identical twin. The engine redlining riffs, the blast beat insanity, Anselmo’s guttural and shrieking vocals – it’s all been more or less transcribed over to Red as a second offering. They even threw in an eerie, horror movie soundtrack-esque instrumental in the fifth spot, just like last time. To wit: set aside the two effective, if unnecessary, moody pieces, throw the remaining 10 songs into a playlist and hit shuffle. The result would neither increase or decrease overall cohesion or coherence. Yet if sheer brutality is the goal, perhaps coherence or cohesion (or even maturity) isn’t really the point.
Notably, the only real, demonstrable evolution between the two EPs is Anselmo’s lyrics. Scour / Grey spoke of death and destruction and cynicism in the abstract and from a distance: “Utterly perished ghettos/ Seized and abandoned/ Flee for safety/ In the new dark age.” Correctly titled as Grey, the lyrical content was various tones of pale and drab. With Red, Anselmo zooms in to showcase gory, animalistic rage: “One target, one hive of arteries/ Shank,” “Transformed from object to subject/ Crowning, blinding mists of red.”
It’s evil, demonic stuff, to be sure. Scour’s music and lyrics disorient by whirling around you like a tornado, never giving you time to breathe or find your bearings. It’s a blur of hyperspeed, blunt force violence, so much so that it doesn’t even matter when Anselmo bellows word salad like “Spoke in stilted manner/ Tablet kinship rejoinder.” It’s almost as if the absurdity coming out of his mouth is supposed to mirror the squall around him. Yet, there is a moment of calm reflection to be found in the EP. Midway through, Anselmo stumbles across a perfect six-word description of Scour: “Selfish, abhorrent, sub-human/ It looks bleak.”