Summer is about to end and, as a late summer gift, today I bring you the debut album of the band Scarecrow: Scarecrow Vol. I. Scarecrow is a band originally from Perm, Russia, a city that they themselves describe as “a depressive place among the endless swamps and ancient forests, under the rains and snowfalls “, so it seems like a perfect city to explore the darkest side of music. And that is what Scarecrow proposes in their first album, which roots in the style of hard rock from the 60/70 and the first stages of Black Sabbath, mixed with some touches of gothic rock such as that of the last Tribulation album, but that transcends these influences to include orchestral arrangements and melodies that seem to be taken from black-and-white horror films. Debut albums always scare me, since too many things can go wrong when you lack experience. Bands try to make too ambitious or too cheesy albums, but in the case of Scarecrow, I have been very pleasantly surprised. The errors are minor and the final result is an original and balanced proposal for a first album that everyone could enjoy, whether a fan of hard rock or not.
It seems that these guys know exactly how they want to sound, and they make it clear from the first song, Overture. The title may not be very original, but the tune is very cool. It’s directly inspired by classic horror books and movies and could serve as the perfect soundtrack for them. I especially like how violins build the melody, how they converge and separate in several voices. Around 2:30 minutes, the music takes on a more doom hue, including an organ that builds an incredible atmosphere. Perhaps the only downside is that the song becomes too long, because there comes a time when it seems that it has given everything it could and should give.
The next track, called The Journey, breaks the horror movie atmosphere like a truck crashing into a show window. But it’s not necessarily bad, because it makes us quickly get used to the change with its casual hard rock style. Still, it retains a certain mysterious tone and the lead guitar doesn’t give a moment of rest. Maybe the riffs that have been used for this song are somewhat bland, but they make up for it with a final part that seems to have come directly from the 60s / 70s. The speed drops with The Final Problem, with a slower pace than in the previous case that makes it very cool and a melody that at times makes it seem like you’re listening to an old Black Sabbath album. It is one of the first outstanding songs of the album, although it becomes too long, as was the case with Overture. And then we meet the original When the Powers of Evil are Exalted. This time, they replace the typical hard rock intro with a drum solo and flutes that give it an exotic air. The riffs sound much more solid and wicker, in the style of Tribulation. The addition of the exotic touch of the harmonic, somewhat melancholic, on top of some typical horror movie sound effects makes the whole become truly sinister. And this time they have nailed the duration of the song. Also short and concise, Worm of Anger returns to the style of The Journey. The lead guitar continues to go on a good path, the bridge being especially remarkable.
And from here, it seems that they were saving the best for last, because the band has lost its shyness and the triad of the best songs on the album awaits us. Autumn Woods indicates, by its title, that it will give us a break. Acoustic, warm and thoughtful, perhaps it’s an excessive contrast with the previous tunes, as if it belonged to another album, but it is simply beautiful. Madman returns to the style of The Final Problem, but finally we have the orchestral arrangements that were promised in all their splendor. And the wait is worth it. The inclusion of the orchestral arrangements adds more layers of sound and makes the music sound much more round, more complete, improving the whole greatly. The outtro of the song is great, the best part of the album without a doubt. And Scarecrow, the last song, doesn’t slow down at all. This time, it includes a piano and the song has a denser instrumentation, like its predecessor, although its rhythm is slower and closer to the doom sound. Lead guitar is on fire and the outtro is the most epic moment, so that what began timidly in the first tracks of the album, ends in an explosion that shows its full potential.
In conclusion, to be a debut album, only positive things can be said about Scarecrow Vol. I. Although the music follows the canons of hard rock and the influences on which the band is based, they try to be original and innovative, And they get it. Maybe they should lose all fear of experimenting with their sound, even if they know how they want it to be. For now, it seems like an interesting project and here we will be to liste to what Volume II brings us.
Scarecrow Vol. I will be out on September 13th. Until then, you can take a look at their Nosferatu EP where you can listen to some songs of the same style, to get a taste for it (available on Bandcamp).