Scorched-Earth
Mars

Given the cover artwork, and the name, I figured Scorched-Earth would be some haphazard grindcore band and the Mars experience would be up after, oh, 30 minutes at most. I was also reminded of the old school trajectory-based strategy game Scorched Earth on the PC (come on, space, tanks, and that band name?). Color me surprised when “Warlords of Mars” kicks in and Scorched-Earth establishes themselves as abrasive blackened thrash. Nowadays, I guess no one can judge a book by its cover.

These Seattle boys sure got some respect for the riff and not much else, judging by the songwriting and the resulting mix. If you’re hearing more than scratchy guitars, raspy vocals, and snappy snare hits, you’re certainly picking up more than I possibly could. Still, the riffs are enough to keep me entertained. The aforementioned “Warlords,” “Out of the Violent Planet,” and “Knights of the Black Cross vs. the Reavers of the Red Death” (awesome title) each rocked the shit out of my headphones with crusty, sometimes doomy, but always thrashy guitars. The mix could’ve definitely done with a little more bottom end on the kick drums, but then this probably wouldn’t have the lo-fi charm it resonates with every struck chord.

You’d think an album about people fighting on Mars and crazy Cthulhu-esque creatures ravaging the planet would be a little more juvenile. Scorched-Earth handles the material with a bizarre reverence that were any other band to handle this stuff, most people wouldn’t be able to get past the first song without dismissing it on the grounds of self-indulgent lunacy (it’s probably why I’m one of a select few that enjoy Ziltoid the Omniscient). Scorched-Earth cast aside any notion of bullshit the lyrics might suggest; the music is empowering, monstrous stuff that combines the fiercest elements of the classic 70’s hard rock bands and the sometimes crippling speed of thrash metal. There’s no sly winks nor innocuous nudges on this record. At its best, Scorched-Earth reminds me of those Australian war-mongers, Deströyer 666, circa Unchain the Wolves. At worst, Scorched-Earth goes a little overboard on some of the song lengths, but that’s a relatively minor complaint.

Barring a bare-bones overall drum sound and some overwrought songs here and there, Scorched-Earth’s Mars is about as innovative with the thrash formula as I’ve heard in recent days. Definitely worth a listen or two for those even mildly curious. Personally, I’m on my thirtieth or so with no sign of it leaving my playlist for a while.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kris Yancey
May 4th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: vugelnox

    This album is excellent, I agree with all points mentioned in the review. I also have their previous album Devils in Iron and that is no slouch either although I prefer the earth vs. mars fantasy lyrics of this one. Lets hear it for awesome west coast bone breaking metal!


  2. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Color me intrigued. I’m checking this out.


  3. Commented by: Staylow

    Killer music, but I the vocals got to be pretty grating half way through.


  4. Commented by: Clauricaune

    Yeah, I’m not much into the vocals either, almost kill the album for me.


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