Review: “In Darkness Alone” by Scars of the Flesh
Some two years in the waiting, the third studio album from San Antonio Texas Melodic Blackened Death Metal scribes Scars Of The Flesh finds them once again armed for the apocalypse but this time with some new weapons of mass destruction. Originally formed in 2014 by guitarists Bryan Eckermann (Solo Artist, ex-Wings of Abaddon) and Derek Russell alongside vocalist Kobey Lange (Cerebral Desecration, ex-Wings of Abaddon) they released a pair of albums in 2017’s “Harvest of Souls” and 2020’s “Reaching into the Void” with fill in and session musicians making up the numbers. Now joined by previous co-conspirators Collyn Rios (Cerebral Desecration, Black Jackal) on drums and Robert O’Briant (The Hanged Man’s Curse, ex-Wings of Abaddon) on bass our new hell awaits in album number three…
Recorded, engineered, produced, mixed and mastered by guitarist and mastermind Bryan Eckermann at Bonespill Studios (2021-2022), “In Darkness Alone” is very much an album of two halves with five new cuts and four covers that could have been split into a pair of EPs should the band have so desired. Soaked in melancholic atmosphere “Only I” finds Lange offering some lyrical introspection while still having the crushing Death Metal drive from Rios powerhouse kit performance that has plenty of jackhammer double kick action and the occasional burst of blast beats, finding the balance on a knife edge between the heavy and the melodic. “The Hooded One” then marks another caustic vocal performance with a dark spoken word confirming the gravelly lows which Lange can reach from that standpoint. Throughout the album he demonstrates his prowess as a demonic beast that goes toe to toe with the shriller throat shredding of Eckermann, which sound very much Gollum esque as they penetrate the ear drums. The vocal layering is clever as to the outside ear of someone who is not familiar with the prior sins of Eckermann, here the two intertwine and give the impression of a single vocalist.
The dark melodies continue into title track “In Darkness Alone” which has an ethereal quality with some piano adding an icy touch before the cut unfurls its Blackened Melodic Death Metal wings and taking to flight with passion and power, the solo being particularly special. In an age when the guest appearance is all the rage, there is only one here with Jon Santiago adding a solo to the bleak darkness that is “Memory Unknown“. Turning the all consuming walk to inevitable self immolation of the earlier cuts which voice the thoughts from the pit of despair, this one is the clenched fist that says simply “I will return” before walking away into the blackest of nights. A cinematic interlude in “Mors Aeterna” splits the album clean in half, sounding like it belongs on the soundtrack to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, bringing shafts of light to cut through the dark clouds the first half of the record brought.
The choices for the covers for the second half of “In Darkness Alone” are intriguing with a couple of curveballs in the mix. “Chant For Ezkaton” is perfectly in keeping with the first half of the record, a powerful beast of a rendition of a Behemoth classic that shows off the guitar playing a little more with some Blackened Thrash leanings and a little whammy bar action to boot. “Silent Night Fever” confirms the bands Swedish Death Metal influences with a battering ram of a performance that if anything reminds how good and underrated Dimension Zero actually are, however it is the rendition of “Victorious March” by Amon Amarth that Scars of the Flesh have put together which stands out the most. It’s the one that is the most in keeping with the album as a whole and the Scars of the Flesh sound and style while still keeping enough of the original so as not to lose its way. The strangest of the four without a doubt is “The God That Failed” by Metallica which has the trademark caustic vocal performance while being tweaked by the addition of orchestration during chorus. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it’s still a bone rattling take on a classic with a face melting extended solo, it just feels like it has been done one time too many before already and therefore ends up being just a little predictable. All in all, an interesting dark new dawn for Scars of the Flesh has begun… [8/10]
1. Only I
2. The Hooded One
3. In Darkness Alone
4. Memory Unknown (ft. Jon Santiago)
5. Mors Aeterna
6. Chant For Ezkaton (Behemoth Cover)
7. Silent Night Fever (Dimension Zero Cover)
8. Victorious March (Amon Amarth Cover)
9. The God That Failed (Metallica Cover)
“In Darkness Alone” by Scars of the Flesh is out 18th November 2022 with pre-orders available over at bandcamp.