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Album Review: EVIL SCARECROW – CHAPTER IV: ANTARTARCTICA

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Despite having been around since around 2002, Evil Scarecrow really only became properly well-known on the back of their astonishing set at Bloodstock in 2011, where they grabbed hold of their early (for a festival) set, wrestled it, debagged it and left it lying, spent, in a corner. The reaction was swift, with the Nottingham-based band gaining both national and international attention as a band with both a ferocious sense of humour and some serious musical chops. Album number three, the carefully-enunciated Galactic Hunt, followed soon thereafter, as well as a touring schedule that would make your head spin.

Happily, they’re at it again: their next album, Chapter IV: Antartarctica, is due for release at the end of the month on Dead Box Records, with a full UK and Ireland tour following. So far, they’ve released two videos: the goofy ‘Polterghost’ and the swirling, kaleidoscopic ‘Hurricadado’, complete with space hoppers and toddler-sized tricycles (yes, really).

Opening track ‘Skulls of Our Enemies’ brings the Scarecrow train hurtling back into reality: a suitably dramatic intro slides effortlessly into a gloriously heavy and OTT number, which pays homage to – whilst lovingly poking fun at – the likes of battle and power metal, with lyrics such as “fight to live, live to fight” and “we can’t find anything else” (to drink from). It’s a fantastic track which really brings home the two sides of the band; that is, their sense of the ridiculous and their musical ability.

This duality shines from the ten tracks on the album over and over again, from the rifftastic strains of ‘Ways to Die’, which talks about, you guessed it, horrible ways to die (such as cannibalism and “drowning in a septic tank”), to the choral intro and blazing solo from ‘The Magician’, whose lyrics read like rather nauseating diary entries (“I am the greatest…my wand is bigger than yours”), to the piledriving beat of ‘Gus, Zag and the Turnip King’, with its…well, just look at that title!

In amongst all this brilliance, two tracks stand out: the fiercely heavy, almost Judas Priest-like ‘Hurricanado’, which is the ‘Robototron’ of the album – the chorus alone is a thing of glorious, catchy beauty to behold. Then there’s ‘Cosmos Goth Moth Gong’ – don’t even question the frankly bonkers title, just relax and enjoy its bombast and delicious heaviness. (It’s about a moth, who’s a goth, and has a gong. Apparently).

The whole thing skids majestically to a halt with the final two tracks: ‘The Ballad of Brother Pain’, a short intro of sorts which tells the tale of a monk who travels to Antartarctica clad in just “open toed sandals” and a robe. “does your mum know where you are?” enquires vocalist Dr. Hell? Ahem…it’s ‘guitarist on a mountain-top’ solo eventually segues into the epic, ten minute long title track, which expands on Brother Pain and his travelling adventures, ending as he reaches his destination. It’s glorious, pompous, grandiose…and absolutely ludicrous. Evil Scarecrow in a ten minute nutshell, basically.

So-called ‘joke bands’ can struggle to sustain themselves once the initial hilarity has worn off. They lose their ‘flavour of the month’ title, and the world moves on to the next group with a gimmick. Not Evil Scarecrow, however, who seem to have hit on precisely the right combination of raucous laughs and musical ability – even their harshest critic would have to concede that this is a very talented bunch of musicians indeed. It’s that, combined with their wit and clear delight at getting to write daft songs for a living, which pushes the band beyond the cliché of a funny band and into the realm of potential superstardom.

Review by Melanie Brehaut

Originally published on Metal Planet Music

 

Chapter IV: Antartarctica is released on September 28th. Pre-order your copy now. There is also a special digipack and vinyl option, available on their Pledge fund here.

The ‘Lost in Antartarctica’ tour starts on October 6th in Nottingham. Dates as follows:

LOST IN ANTARTATICA TOUR:

2018

2019

Catch Evil Scarecrow on http://www.evilscarecrow.co.uk, https://www.facebook.com/Evil.Scarecrow, https://twitter.com/EvilScarecrowUK

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