Trophy Scars
Alphabet Alphabets


4.0
excellent

Review

by Coup__D_Etat USER (2 Reviews)
June 12th, 2006 | 45 replies | 5,280 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


6 of 6 thought this review was well written

About 3 years ago, NJ's Trophy Scars were one of the most promising bands around. The 'Hospital Music' EP had just been self released. 6 tracks of forward thinking, progressive post-hardcore. Jerry's voice was different to the rest of the scene, yelling in a style reminiscent of the Blood Brothers if they hadn't adopted the tight jeans and were partial to smoking weed on a daily basis. Nothing has changed. Jerry still whines in his own little way. He's still probably one of my favorite vocalists around, purely because of the originality.

For the past 5 or so weeks, the Scars had been uploading various new songs onto Myspace, and to be honest, things weren't looking good. Assistant. Assistants had a cheesy sliding octave intro, and a sing-along chorus that brought the other band members to the fore, pushing Jerry back behind the guitars and drums to just yelps of 'Oh Yeah!' Things weren't looking up. But when the album fell through my door last weekend a week early on pre-release, that wasn't quite the case.

On first thoughts, An Introduction. All Introductions is different. Plain acoustic with some harmonising, brought forward after a few bars by a nice distorted tone and Jerry singing quietly about Critics and mentioning the book 'The Scarlet Letter' (where the 'A' theme for the album is derived) This carries for just over a minute before bursting into the first track proper.

Artist. Artists. is one of the highlights of the album, a fast song with various melodic interludes, kind of like 'Hey Kiddo' from the 'Goodnight Alchemy' EP. Vocally, the song is Jerry in full form, spraying backwards and forwards between dynamics in different sections, and the guitars are melodic as always. The breakdown that occurs at about 1.10 thuds while Jerry and the other vocalists scream 'you're so sickening,' a reoccurring refrain that is drawn back in throughout the song and helps to keep the pace. The 'Ex-girlfriend' section in the middle of the song is also great, using simple lead lines in an eventual buildup to a crowd pleasing gang chant

Assistant. Assistants. however is a step down from the opening. Octave chords follow the vocal lines, sounding poppy as well as just genuinely unlike the Scars. After repeated listens the gang chant chorus mentioned beforehand becomes rather catchy, with underlying octaves adding melody and movement. A nice moment of simple music, where the listener doesn't always have to think about what is going on. The 'This is not me' section following straight after this however, is a perk of the song, with the guitar stabs signalling a possible change in quality to the end of the song. Although the chant is brought back the ending is rather uplifting. It does grow with time, and I find it continually running through my head all day at times.Assassin. Assassins. follows a better structure, beginning as a remake of old Trophy Scars song 'The Moche Skeleton Dance,' (Soulseek/Sand in the Sea B-sides cd) albeit more chilled and slightly reminiscent of 'Cats as a Measurement of Time,' with Jerry exploiting his stoner voice. Lyrically this is better, with lines such as 'we've suited our hearts with the words of our tongues' interspersed with more random lyrics regarding 'babies in blenders,' which were in the original version. I should probably note here that while a limited few of Jerry's lyrics aren't exactly amazing, it is the style in which he pulls them off that astounds. Plus, meaningwise, a lot of his songs have much more depth than you'd expect, with songs like Lesson 3 from Goodnight... being super existential. The final outro of 'My Bonnie sails over the ocean' is a highlight of this track, before we see something we haven't seen from the Scars before.

Jerry always said he was a fan of Hip Hop, and this has always shown in the way he organises his lyrics. But putting a rap break in as an outro? Yeahhh. It's not that bad either, performed by a guest rapper as the band jams out a pretty and clean backdrop behind him. Although I’d like to see what interesting things they could have done by themselves, without this guy getting involved. This is also seen in Accent. Accents, the following interlude, where electronic music ala Reason - delayed piano and all - act as the music for a short rap between Jerry and rapper Kadence Prose, friends from the Bronx during childhood. The following track Apparition. Apparitions is a growing story (told backwards by Jerry), building from a moody minor key lead line harmonisation to a fully distorted climax. Lyrically it isn't bad either, with a growing storyline. Later track Alligator. Alligators uses this, although with a swung 3/4 style, which scarily reminds me of fairgrounds. That said, it's a good track, with a nice lyrical idea, that eventually builds into a guitar solo.

Yes. No.
Can be classed as one song. No is basically the breakdown of Yes, with a solo, and then some more riffage. They aren't bad, although the Scars have done better songs in this vein - fast, with multiple vocals coming across on stereo and lots of yells. Here is my own real lyrical issue, as one or two of the lines are very cliché. Sorry Jerry, but I'm not gunna stick up for those. Just this once though.

The intro to the following track however is beautiful. Scalic runs on clean, heavily delayed guitars and a slowly thumping drumbeat start Absolute. Absolutes. off well. Jerry cross references other songs by the band towards the end, targeting lyrics at classic scars songs such as Eyes Baptized in Mercury, Designed like Dice and Cats as a Measurement... It's a nice break from the rest of the album, topped off by a piano refrain from arguably the best track of the album, Alchemist. Alchemists. This song uses the Scars technique of slow chord changes, amazingly well timed and pronounced drumming and high lead runs to create a rather epic track. The piano makes an appearance in the buildup at the end too, along with soloing leads and a well timed breakdown. Best song on the album?

Addict. Addicts. is also great. Off kilter riffs open at the start, with a heavily compressed lead guitar sounding almost like a keyboard, entwining with the other instruments in 3/4 time. It's obviously about drugs, metaphorical or otherwise. Like a good Scars song, this once again moves through various musical stages, with a staccato riff in the middle providing a good dance point, then running into a chromatic harmonising lead riff. Something sounding suspiciously like a melody horn even appears in the background at one point. One point I haven't mentioned yet is the skill of Brian on the drums. He holds the beat incredibly well, and has a knack for anticipating moments in songs, and emphasises these well with rolls, and fast snare hits, with the occasional double bass.

Outro piano piece Anxiety. Anxieties is also nice, a change from the rest of this album, Jerry sums up the meanings of the album, with the clean piano and guitar building slowly. Nice alliteration makes the lyrics flow well, and the overall effect is a pretty and calm track that proves a good closing point to the album. Track 16, I really don't see necessary. But it's there. Just a guitar solo with a crowd.

On the whole, it's a good album. Better than Goodnight Alchemy, it brings lots of new ideas to the table, and pulls off most of them well. They're still pushing the post-hardcore scene, even if some of the ideas don't always hit home.


user ratings (322)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Understanding In a Crash (4)
Trophy Scars progresses without conforming to the scene = win/win for everybody!...

Nick Greer EMERITUS (2.5)
Alphabet. Alphabets. features a Trophy Scars that is unable to scrap together enough solid material ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Full Collapse299
June 12th 2006



507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review. I'm loving what I hear on purevolume so far. Can't wait to pick this up tommorow. I personally love the gang chant chorus in Assistant. Assistants.

John Paul Harrison
June 12th 2006



1014 Comments


I really "dig", if you will, these titles.

A fine review, sir.

pixiesfanyo
June 12th 2006



1222 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This is a pretty bad record.

It just reminds me of Chiodos or some other chhezy shit.

Still, moments of originality and interest pop up. And the music on some of the songs is great. It's closer to a 3 but for the benefit of the doubt, I'll rate 2.5.This Message Edited On 06.13.06

Coup__D_Etat
June 12th 2006



65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As a record, it's nowhere near the heights of Hospital Music.

But it's a definate improvement from Goodnight Alchemy. They're trying new things, and this time it isn't just overdubbing sex sound effects, but branching out genre-wise too, and trying new instrumentaton amongst other things. These guys are gunna blow up sooner or later.

What is it that reminds you of Chiodos man?

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 12th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I hate you Milkman Dan. I'm going to do one when I get this in the mail.

cbmartinez
June 12th 2006



2525 Comments


Ugh, that doubling up the words theme is so cliche, scene and stupid.

ishotthepilot
June 12th 2006



1 Comments


whaa?? how is "doubling up the words" cliche?
lol whatever, this is a good informative review, i like the album too ;) it's post-hardcore style yet they're still doing their own thing, so i'm into it.

Coup__D_Etat
June 12th 2006



65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't think so, it's referenced well, and suits the whole album, which is basically focused on language and its influences.

And since when have song names mattered anyhows?



Unhappy_Dean
June 12th 2006



107 Comments


Scene yes, but cliche, not really.

Cant wait to pick this up.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 12th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Just because nobody has used that form of scene jerk-offery before doesn't mean it's not of the same derivative cliché inspiration to appear witty to teh scene.

santi3hg
June 12th 2006



440 Comments


I really hope this is as good as you reviewed it to be cause current forum talk says it is horrible progression. So I'm gonna risk teh buy anyways.

suchashorttime
June 13th 2006



1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

look at all of you silly kids who think you know something about music. please consider, all of you, that the players in this band know how to play music, and they prove it in the dymic of the album, hearing influences from jazz to metal. take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to appreciate this before brushing it off as scene, or cliche. sure, some aspects in the album are rather popular, and can be confused as scene, but the album itself, in my opinion, stands its ground. it mixes genres, sheding a bit of light on the music scene that has, well, died. do remember that ten years ago, calling something "scene" wouldn't be derogatory. in conclusion, i dare you to listen to this album. not as part of a scene, or as part of a genre, but as a complete work, a piece of art composed by five, and played by many more, talented artists. if you can do this and write somewhat of a intelligent comment, people won't think you sound like an ass.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 13th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Whatever. This is obviously Jerry coming back to sputnik to find more reviews calling his lyrics Myspace headlines. haha. I will be writing a review as well. You have to recognize that most of what's been posted so far is hearsay or based on limited mp3 samples because not everybody has this CD yet. I've been a fervent supporter of Trophy Scars since Darts to the Sea and when Josh was still in the band. I feel like I, somebody who has openly mocked this sceneness is just casually observing in lieu of having the album right this instant. Don't worry, man. You'll have opinions that are molded by listening to this album "as a complete work, a piece of art composed by five, and played by many more, talented artists." You just have to give a little leeway to the speculation that comes early on from a sort of difficult to find release.

NEDM
June 13th 2006



1113 Comments


Oh quiet Jerry, we all know what we're talking about.

jaredrl
June 13th 2006



99 Comments


I've only heard the stuff by them on purevolume and let me say i love the vocals and lyrics. Their style is like no other and i feel has the vocals actually have substance in this band. I will most likely be picking this shit up.

Coup__D_Etat
June 13th 2006



65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Jerrys vox are amazing on this CD. More varied than before

Ohh and, give this a few listens before you start slagging it off, it takes a while to grow if you aren't used to it. It's one of those albums where some people will get it, and some people will just blatantly hate it. Hopefully it's the former.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
June 13th 2006



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

jaredrl, I entreat you to start off with Hospital Music. It's a probably a better entry into the band than the newer two albums.

ToWhatEnd
June 13th 2006



3172 Comments


Does anyone know of any stores that would carry their previous two EP's? I've checked a few Best Buys and have had no luck, just curious since I would like to avoid ordering them.

Nice review by the way.This Message Edited On 06.13.06

soruined
June 13th 2006



3 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

hot topics might have goodnight...but you are better off getting them from merchnow.com

Coup__D_Etat
June 13th 2006



65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't know of anywhere you can really get the Hospital Music ep, other than the web or via shows. It's probably the same with the Goodnight Alchemy as well.

You can get Darts To The Sea and the bonus disk in digipak for like, $5 from Loudmerch.com, and that is like, 30 songs worth of tracks, weellll worth it.



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