Review Summary: A solid free EP courtesy of Revolver that whets the appetite for this supergroup's upcoming debut.
Scar the Martyr is an interesting prospect of a supergroup. Joey Jordison of Slipknot fame has assembled a group with the calibre of Kris Norris, Jed Simon and Chris Vrenna to aid his project with unknown vocalist Henry Derek Bonner to create an album which early signs imply could easily have been made with Slipknot in mind. However this isn't to say that this 4 track taster EP that Revolver Magazine have kindly released is in any way poor. It provides a good look into what the general sound of the upcoming full length (and by that I mean full length, with the standard edition alone clocking in 14 tracks) and is enough to keep you interested.
The songs available here are well constructed and have enough riffs to appease fans of alternative metal in the vein of Slipknot, if the songs are a little long and tend to drag on a little longer than they may be welcome. Chris Vrenna's keyboard contributions provide a nice amount of depth and atmosphere most of the time (for example, in the industrial fuelled 'Soul Disintegration') but can also get somewhat lost behind the wall of guitars provided by Jordison, Norris and Simon. Henry Derek Bonner has proven himself on these tracks to be a very capable vocalist, if not the sort of singer that many were hoping for when it was announced that the likes of Jed Simon and Kris Norris were joining (whose contributions, although minimal in terms of rhythm and structure - most rhythm guitars were recorded by Jordison - are appreciated, particularly in the solos). He shows a good vocal range and reliable enough harsh vocals, however many will likely spot similarities to a certain Corey Taylor in the choruses in particular.
With regards to specific songs, 'Blood Host' and 'Soul Disintegration' are the two songs that we will find on the upcoming self-titled album and they are definitely the most Slipknot-esque with their chugging alt-metal riffs and simpler structures. They are enjoyable enough but one would hope that the rest of the album is not like this. That's where the second half comes in. These two were b-sides that will not appear on any edition of the final album and seem to indicate a lot more influence from the two lead guitarists. The opening riff of 'After the Fall' reeks of mid-career Strapping Young Lad, however it does eventually show its true colours after a while and turns into another Slipknot song, aside from some terrific solo work from Norris and Simon, which is probably the biggest example of a song - which could easily have been the standout track - outstaying its welcome and getting dragged down as a result. The other b-side, 'Trinity of Lies', is probably the strongest track as a result of this, providing a much needed burst of pace with a much bigger thrash influence and at 4:15 it doesn't end too soon and doesn't drag on until it becomes a droning bore.
Overall, it doesn't really match up to the high expectations placed upon the band by the calibre of (four-fifths of) its studio lineup and gives off a bad feeling that we are just looking at what could have been Slipknot's long awaited 5th album. However this isn't to say that it is a bad release. For all its Slipknot similarities, if Slipknot were to release an album like this in the near future I doubt many would have much complaints, and the contributions of the other members still manage to help carve out Scar the Martyr's own identity somewhat. It's not what we were hoping for but it's a very good effort which is at the very least passable. Whether or not this reflects the entire 14 track (18 if you buy the deluxe edition) album remains to be seen but it's certainly enough to keep listeners interested.