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Thursday, October 30, 2014

EP Review: Growing up in public for Scimitar as they release Plague In The Vatican ep

MOST Northern Ireland bands end up growing up in the public eye; and for those that do the Limelight2, Pavilion, Voodoo, Diamond venue circuit it can be a tough thing to do; all too often the naysayers and the cynics can dampen the enthusiasm.

For Scimitar this enthusiasm has never dampened. From their first iteration and the release of 'Act of War' they have approached every outing with on stage professionalism; watched and learned from those they supported, thereby enabling them to develop both as a band and as individual musicians.

Fittingly they will be releasing their latest ep on Samhain/Halloween. It's called 'Plague In The Vatican'; and the top bloke at this mini-statelet this week called for Halloween to be renamed Holyween and for people to dress as saints not demons...

First the Church hijacks the ancient festival of Samhain, renames it All Hallows Eve, and now they want to dilute the moment we all mark the madness that is the period of feasting until our bloated bodies collapse in post Christmas overload.

It therefore seems only righteous that Scimitar to lash out against the tyranny of religiosity. After all they play thrash metal and it is the appropriate way to go as thrashers.

The three track ep kicks off full-tilt with 'We All Shall Burn' which after a thunderclap has an epic pace before a breakdown/middle eighth levens the wholesale attack. A doff of the cap towards their progenitors in the middle period of thrash, and some Germanic thrash thrown in for good measure. Nice solo too.

As to 'Black Death' it deceivingly opens as a mid-paced thrasher, before launching in to full tilt thrash. Jonny's vocals rise to the challenge while John keeps tightly locked in to Chriz's bass and Ryan's drums before he lets his six-string express itself fully.

Indeed it is the rhythmic sensibility that keeps Scimitar from wandering, like too many who try to follow the thrash rule book. When you know what you are doing it becomes a homage to all that walked that way in the past.

'Innocent X' opens with another obligatory thunderclap and after some finger picking manages to discover some monks doing their Gregorian chanting thing before getting down to business.

Clocking in at almost five minutes it is perhaps the bands tour de force track so far. Sites firmly aimed at the hypocrisy and crimes of church the defiant challenge "Are You Guilty" is social commentary.

Okay it's not exactly poet laureate, but it is heartfelt, passionate and merges totally with the musical themes.

Thrash, after all may have artists who delight in silliness lyrically, but equally there are more and more such bands who take on social commentary and deliver knock-out blows. The gates of the Vatican won't be stormed as a result of this - and it may be 'preaching to the converted' - but there is nothing wrong in turning your musical weapons against injustice.

What Scimitar have delivered here is a massive step up from 'Act of War'. The experience they have gained is on show with better arrangements, a more considered approach, and staying true to their true love - thrash fucking metal.

Review by Jonny
Scimitar launch 'Plague In The Vatican' on October 31st
They will be supporting  Gama Bomb, together with other acts
You can also hear them the following day at Limelight2 on November 1st as they back up Cursed Sun's ep launch

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