Scars of the Flesh
In Darkness Alone

San Antonio, Texas-based Scars of the Flesh seem to be playing a dangerous game calling their newest release, In Darkness Alone, a bonafide full-length album. Okay, maybe I’m overexaggerating a bit, as the nine-track affair sets at the fifty-one minute mark, but that’s counting the four (four???) bonus songs attached to the five original compositions that truly make up In Darkness Alone. Even then, those five originals clock in at just shy of thirty minutes, and let’s be honest, coming in under thirty minutes, even if it is mere seconds, is cutting it close. Personally, I prefer my full-lengths to reside in the 33-45 minute area, sure they can definitely go longer, but that’s where you start to see some falterings and/or filler start to arise. Only the cream of the crop can truly deliver the goods on an album pushing an hour or more. Likewise, only a few can deliver full-length albums under that thirty-minute threshold and actually be praised in their work, but unless your name is Slayer, Repulsion, Deicide, or Naplam Death, I wouldn’t count on your band being one of them.

In all fairness, the five originals found within In Darkness Alone are quite endearing examples of some quality black-death metal. At times the material rages with straight-up death metal aplomb and ferocity. Other times it drips with a blackness that is as razor-sharp as it is scathing. Though the deathly black combination that seeps through the majority of this extremity is what really fuels the fire. Imagine if Dark Funeral incorporated a bit of true death metal, à la David Vincent, into their sound, or maybe better yet, imagine the excellence of Cradle of Filth without the romantic ideologies and over-the-top Dani Filth-isms and you can get a pretty decent idea of what Scars of the Flesh has to offer with In Darkness Alone.

While all of the original material rages in a similar fashion, except the instrumental, “Mors Aetrena”, my favorite would probably be the album’s title track, “In Darkness Alone” (though “Memory Unknown” is a close contender). “In Darkness Alone” is heavy, driving, slicing, and ultimately, as beautiful as it is brutal. The track incorporates some terrifically strong and memorable melodies and lead guitar work. Compelling in its nature and moving in its arrangement, not to mention that the dual death and black vocals are fantastic; the song is everything I like about the band. The aforementioned instrumental, “Mors Aeterna” closes out the original material with a soft and beautifully done piece of guitar and piano, with some nice light synth work within, to create a well-done ethereal feel before the album moves on to the four bonus tracks that close out In Darkness Alone proper.

Obviously, I feel that four bonus tracks included in the actual representation of the album is a tad over kill. I would have much preferred one more original track of raging black death metal and one, maybe two cover songs, but damn…alas it is what it is, and who really cares what I think. Over kill or not, these covers are done excellently and are quite the ragers if I do say so myself. Not to mention, the choice of bands that Scars of the Flesh have chosen to cover are great representations of where their influences lay.

With Behemoth‘s “Chant for Ezkaton”, Dimension Zero‘s “Silent Night Fever”, and Amon Amarth‘s “Victorious March”(so glad they chose a song from Once Sent from the Golden Hall) all receiving pretty faithful renditions, save for some added heft and minor tweaks here and there, and all easily standing shoulder to shoulder with the original, it’s Metallica‘s “The God That Failed” that comes off as the more interesting number out of the cover tracks.

If nothing else, the track is the most diverse take of the aforementioned cover songs. Successful in managing to maintain the same tempo and overall gait of the original while adding in some killer little flourishes of keyboard work that really do add to the effect of the song. The extreme vocal treatment and the added moments of double kick drums don’t hurt things either, as they give the track a stellar mid-’90’s Carcass vibe, all while maintaining a faithful guitar performance, leads, and all. A damn good take on one of Metallica‘s better songs of the ’90’s.

I hate to say that I can’t really attest to how In Darkness Alone stacks up to the band’s prior releases as I am only marginally familiar with the group. Though with them being a Texas band and myself being a born and raised Texan they earn a few extra points, at least enough to make up for the whole full-length debacle. What? It’s my review. If ya don’t like my logic well, tough shit. Seriously, I kid; facetious fun aside, Scars of the Flesh have produced a quality banger of an album, enough so that I’ll have to follow up on their back catalog a little more in-depth to see what I may have missed. As for In Darkness Alone? Check it out, I guarantee you will find something you like about it, in fact, I guarantee you will find more than a few things that you’ll think kick ass about it, and if not? Well…tough shit I guess… I kid, I kid.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
January 5th, 2023

Comments

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Nunslaughter/Fluids - Split EP 7”
  • Godiva - Hubris
  • Wothrosch - Odium
  • Twilight Force - At the Heart of Wintervale
  • AHAB - The Coral Tombs
  • Worm - Gloomlord (Reissue)
  • Morbikon - Ov Mournful Twilight
  • Shroud of Despondency - Air of Abrasion
  • Woods of Desolation - The Falling Tide
  • Katatonia - Sky Void of Stars
  • Kohnerah - Ominous Ubiquitous
  • Lunar Mercia - Leaving the Fragile Space
  • Onslaught - Sounds of Violence (Reissue)
  • Sirrush - Molon Labe
  • Leper Colony - Leper Colony