Scum - Gospels For The Sick - 2005 - DogJob Records
1. Protest Life 2. Gospels for the Sick 3. Throw Up on You 4. Night of A 1000 Deaths 5. Truth Won't Be Sold 6. Hate the Sane 7. Deathpunkscumfuck 8. Road to Sufferage 9. Backstabbers Go to Heaven 10. The Perfect Mistake
Scum are a unique group. Few bands can boast such a star-studded line-up, and even if they could, the diversity of origins here is likely more striking. Members range from the dubious Turbonegro to the legendary Emperor, the punk group Amen and even the folk-inspired Windir. Scum were expected to be nothing if not a curiosity and a fresh take on what some would call a stagnant metal scene. Though not heavily promoted, the group caused something of a stir in the underground and I admit to having been somewhat excited for their release.
Then came the video single, ‘Protest Life’. It begins well, thrashing about at an up-tempo pace and a no-nonsense attitude, panning across windswept metal heads with feet spread wide. It then cuts to a pale, diminutive punker who shrieks abruptly into the microphone before tossing the stand and skipping about.
And then he’s gone as abruptly as he came and the thrashing is back. But the punker is lurking in the background now. We see him leaning on a new microphone stand and then again, fixing his hair while he waits. He must be the reputable Casey Chaos I’ve heard so much about; I wonder what he really sounds like?
Would that I had never asked that question.
This album came so close to being ‘Mistress- In Disgust We Trust’ part II— down and dirty, misanthropic punk and uncompromising thrash and rock and blackened grooves. The music certainly is strong enough. However, it is not enough to save ‘Gospels For the Sick’ from Casey Chaos, who single-handedly does away with all potential this band amassed from its otherwise strong lineup.
Casey spends the rest of the ‘Protest Life’ video sneering right in the camera’s lens and moaning relentlessly, giving the audience a glaring display of this album’s most damning flaw. He does not surrender the spotlight. In true me-first punk fashion, Casey scuttles around this record like a steel-studded and patch-covered purple beetle from one track to the next in an unending diatribe against everyone and everything, never giving the music a chance to breathe or speak for itself.
I understand that the goal of this album was to write a collection of black metal songs heavily inspired by punk, and I also understand the principle of letting the more famous musicians in this group take a back seat for the sake of the vision of Scum, but on ‘Gospels for the Sick’ it goes too far. For example-- Samoth is one of the most highly renowned guitarists in the history of metal, having appeared in bands from Satyricon to Emperor to Zyklon to Gorgoroth and more. Would it not be prudent to let he and his fellow band-mates, who have resumes nearly as impressive in some cases, have a more prominent role? Perhaps Casey is not the only one to blame in this situation, but I can think of no other who is more deserving, considering his disappointing omnipresence throughout.
Perhaps I condemn Casey unjustly, but I would not do so were some pieces of ‘Gospels for the Sick’ not so musically impressive. ‘The Perfect Mistake’ cameos quality black metal growls which play an unfortunately small counterpoint to Casey’s vocals, and the one-two rhythm combined with the minor chord progression is an excellent backdrop for the song. ‘The Truth Won’t Be Sold’ also has the components of success. Eerie effects and a slightly discordant guitar riff repeat before the drums and rhythm come in, turning the song into a possible mid-paced atmospheric highlight. Yet, once Casey begins his childish droning, I am distinctly reminded of Marilyn Manson, which no band can afford.
I tried searching for some lyrics, so that I might better follow along to tracks like ‘Throw Up On You’ or ‘Hate the Sane’, but none were forthcoming. Perhaps it is best, for from what I could decipher Casey would only lose more and more of my respect with every lyric read.
Perhaps those who have prior experience with Amen will be better prepared for Casey’s impact upon ‘Gospels of the Sick’. But I did not have this luxury, and therefore I cannot recommend this album with a clean conscience. I applaud the members of Scum for their attempted fusion of genres, and I wish them the best in the future, but so long as Casey remains I will have a terribly difficult time enjoying it.
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