Trophy Scars
Darkness, Oh Hell


5.0
classic

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF
October 28th, 2010 | 396 replies | 61,476 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Trophy Scars, you sly dogs.

Thank god Trophy Scars stopped being a punk band. While often the evolution most punk bands experience upon “growing up” turns them into either pop-punk drivel or cock-rock nonsense, Trophy Scars have turned from an incredibly random post-hardcore band into an incredibly effective…blues-punk-prog-jazz troupe? Where their previous album, Bad Luck showcased the band slowing their tempo overall, it was still unmistakably derived from the aggression of a hardcore band. However, Darkness, Oh Hell takes Trophy Scars closer to their obvious conclusion; the degeneration into a bar crawling, Tom Waits cover band.

I say that with as much praise as possible, because Darkness, Oh Hell is breathtaking. It’s hard to discuss the album effectively, because so much of its goodness is invested in its depth. Every last second of the album is nuanced beyond belief, thanks to an amazing production and mixing job. Unlike previous Trophy Scars albums where the drums were too loud in the mix, and the riffs at times too indistinct to appreciate, Darkness, Oh Hell gets captured perfectly. I daresay it might be one of the most impressive production jobs of the year, given what an underground release this really is, and the financial situation the band has been in.

As perfect as the extraneous aspects of the album may be (that album cover? After hearing the entire album oh my god is it perfect), the meat of Darkness, Oh Hell is just as great. While many bands are trying to do the “pretty piano led, female vocals” introduction to their albums, Trophy Scars use it to set up the dynamic of Darkness: beneath all of the obvious beauty, you can still hear traces of the lyrics being screamed, growled, and distorted. The sound of the album is pretty similar in tone to songs like “Anna Lucia” and “Good Luck” from Bad Luck, but the instrumentation has been expanded to include piano and strings in pretty much every song, and horns make frequent guest appearances. The range of sound is gigantic, from the big band/western vibe of “Nausea”, which evolves into an orchestral mish mash of WIN near its end, to the melancholy of “Time in Heaven, Forever in Hell”. The guitars constantly intertwine, and often you’ll find both of them trading off with solos and lead lines, which would come off as haphazard if the drumming wasn’t so incredibly strong, never allowing the guitarists room to get too indulgent, keeping the songs in check.

Of special note is “Sad Stanley”. Where the other songs all retain elements of it, “Sad Stanley” simply transcends the album into a stratosphere of its own. I’m not going to talk about it, as it should be left to your interpretation. Just know that if you remotely like stuff I normally like, you’re going to flip a bitch (and if you don’t know what I like, just go ahead and look through my entire profile. What else are you going to do, look at Channing Freeman’s Taylor Swift review?) .

Darkness, Oh Hell requires whatever amount of listening you’re willing to give it. As long as you can get past the vocals, which for a neophyte can be off putting, even a few listens will be rewarding. What makes the album special though is that it stacks up better and better with repeated plays, bringing something new and interesting every time you hear it. Whether it’s guitar flourishes you didn’t notice because of an intense drum section or a particularly awesome lyric, or just discovering that awesome lyric you had never quite noticed before, Darkness, Oh Hell’s goodness comes in droves. It’s a shining example of an EP: its 5 songs run perfectly, each swelling up individually to their own heights, but working in tandem to bring the dark, chilling, but ultimately uplifting feel of the record to life. Darkness, Oh Hell does what any album seeks to do:



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user ratings (598)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2010



16083 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

goodbye going to the fest!

edit: also, this was a product of john being in a rush. a revised version may come up, based on donations made personally to me.

Gyromania
October 28th 2010



15461 Comments


No one has posted in this thread yet because they're all baffled.

elephantREVOLUTION
October 28th 2010



2740 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol, taylor swift. still need to listen to this more.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 28th 2010



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Trophy Scars are so good, I didn't know they had a new album this year. This is joyous news! I will listen and rate soon.

Skimaskcheck
October 28th 2010



2360 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

htzhezmnjtrxkjtck completely missed this coming out what

DoubtGin
October 28th 2010



6748 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

so much praise; I have to listen to this even though I didnt like anything they released so far that much

CyberTaco
October 28th 2010



56 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

like if bad luck got a boob job. a good one.

FelixCulpa
October 28th 2010



1239 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Will check out. Never given these guys a listen.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2010



15615 Comments


an iluvatar review? im so confused right now, will somebody please...?

Digging: Low Roar - 0

Athom
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2010



17204 Comments


emeritus


Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 28th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

an iluvatar review? im so confused right now, will somebody please...? [2]

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 28th 2010



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Listening now, holy ass this is good.

And oh yah, holy shit it's Hanson. I thought he died or something.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 28th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Regardless, I've been convinced to get this now.

Gyromania
October 28th 2010



15461 Comments


GET IT!!!!!!! Also, A Gyro review of this should be out by the end of the day.

Acanthus
October 28th 2010



9537 Comments


Giving it a listen now and I just can't describe how big a smile the beginning of "Nausea" brought to my face.

I don't believe I could listen to this all the time, but it's definitely unique and very well put together; I completely see what you mean by multiple listens.

Digging: The Cure - The Head on the Door

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
October 28th 2010



23804 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can't believe I'm insta 5-ing this. That almost never happens.

Gyromania
October 28th 2010



15461 Comments


Lol, don't go dropping your rating in a week now.

Xenophanes
Emeritus
October 28th 2010



10592 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

1st listen through, kinda cool

Enotron
October 28th 2010



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

re-listening

Enotron
October 28th 2010



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

albums you 5 on first listen tend to be pretty shallow, js



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