Trophy Scars
Astral Pariah


5.0
classic

Review

by Odal USER (23 Reviews)
September 10th, 2021 | 221 replies


Release Date: 09/10/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Badass and haunting, Astral Pariah is another victory lap from a band that simply cannot miss.

If there’s one thing that you can set your watch to with New Jersey-based Trophy Scars’ music, it’s that you will feel something. Sure, it may be recoiling at the sheer demonic nature of Jerry Jones’ vocals, but once that initial shock has worn off you’re left, mouth agape, staring in awe at a remarkable storybook of death, drugs, sex, ghosts, and love. They’ve always had a penchant for huge theatrics, but they do such a good job of selling them with the utmost sincerity that you almost forget you’re listening to an interpolation of “House of the Rising Sun” that’s about a pair of lovers who killed each other out of spite and haunting a family out so they can finally have some peace and quiet. It’s an impressive feat, to be sure, and that’s without getting too thick in the weeds about just how jarringly perfect the instrumental performances are with little licks and fills adorning every nook and cranny of their runtime. One could make the argument that they’ve always been head and shoulders above their peers, but since the heelturn of becoming a bonafide blues band I’m not sure I could even put my finger on who their peers are anymore. They’ve simply been content to put out one underappreciated classic after another.

Astral Pariah, their latest after an agonizing seven year wait, continues that impossible streak with the most intimate and focused album of their career. This time, the coat of paint is the wild west and we’re treated to fiddles, high-noon dueling guitars, rollicking drums, and that signature demonic growl to tell the tale of familial revenge on a cosmic scale. It’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. But for 29 minutes and change, you will be sold on every second of it and forget that you’ve spent the better part of eighteen months trapped inside due to a global pandemic. Instead, you’ll be donning a bandana, a rusty pistol, and insatiable bloodlust.

Not that Trophy Scars have ever belabored any point other than the devastating capacity that heartbreak can have on one’s soul, but they’ve truly stripped away any fat on here. Holy Vacants was the band attempting everything in their orbit, but Astral Pariah is aiming for the head with pinpoint precision. “Turpentine” starts things off with their trademark fade in and from there you are off to the races. Songs will bleed into each other, giving precious few moments to catch your breath after the band so easily takes it away. It really is astounding how many capital-M Moments there are in such a short amount of time, from the arena-ready, bombastic ending of “Mother” to the genuinely terrifying “Sister”, the band knows exactly what they are doing and command the elements as if they were god. Longtime fans will also be rewarded with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it nods to past releases through lyrics and little instrumental passages. It’s a real treat.

At this point in their career, Trophy Scars should not be doubted. The production is immaculate, the mix is perfect, the aesthetics are without equal. It’s just simply a treat to sit back and listen to this band pull out another bag of tricks, even if it took nearly two presidential terms to get here. So stop wondering. Of course Astral Pariah is a classic, it bears the Trophy Scars name.



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user ratings (295)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Odal
September 10th 2021


652 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Album of the year

MercySeat
September 10th 2021


396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I feel like whoever writes their music must have the coolest record collection on the planet. Would love to know more about who they cite as influences.

Odal
September 10th 2021


652 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

One of the best feathers in my musical cap is that I got to sit down and have a few beers with Jerry after their last Chicago show eight years ago. He talked my ear off about Aesop Rock and Pink Floyd. It was awesome lol

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
September 10th 2021


3081 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very nice review! Reads hyperbolic at times but provides decent support for its claims and flows well.



As far as the album goes, only one spin so far but it's very good in my book

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2021


42988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

This is more a band retrospective than an album review, but that's probably appropriate for the first rev on this boi. Intrigued to see how much it grows, first few spins are promising.

Digging: Lali Puna - Scary World Theory

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
September 10th 2021


21924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Intrigued to see how far that rating drops tbh

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2021


42988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

course you are, you lil pot-stirring ratcake

cold
September 10th 2021


6186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

2nd half of this absolutely rips. I'm sure after a few more spins, the first half will grow on me.

Digging: Angel Du$t - YAK: A Collection of Truck Songs

OverSlyZed91
September 10th 2021


132 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The songs are just way too short...this album feels like an EP.

MyNameIsPencil
September 10th 2021


6263 Comments


I didnt even realize trophy scars came back
neat

Digging: Secret And Whisper - Great White Whale

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2021


42988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

first half is potentially better than the second idk, not much in it

Odal
September 10th 2021


652 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It's actually shorter than Never Born Never Dead haha but it's ridiculously efficient with its runtime. First half gets better with repeat listens because you can hear the dominos they set up to be knocked down later on, which is really satisfying

cold
September 10th 2021


6186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wellyboi, that run from Astral Pariah to Cosmic Suicide is god-tier

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
September 10th 2021


21924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@johnny when I'm old af about you and make a list about it, that's gonna be one of the comments I steal about people talking ill of me



Anyway I'm pumped to hear this (:

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 10th 2021


42988 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

yeah these tracks are no less developed than anything on previous releases, just a damn sight more concise about it. there are no "weak links" as such, but if i had to finger point less great moments, father 1 doesn't have the same clout as the tracks either side and cosmic suicide feels a little underwhelming as a (relatively) expansive closer idk. mother thru the t/t is delicious and father 2 is a stunner

"that's gonna be one of the comments I steal about people talking ill of me"

never ! trust ! a rat !!!! ily

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
September 10th 2021


21924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

< 3

Odal
September 10th 2021


652 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I don't know, Father 1 makes me feel like I'm riding on a horse at sunset ready to kill.



that "COME FIND ME/COME FIGHT ME" at the end gets me going

MercySeat
September 10th 2021


396 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Odal that's awesome you're lucky!

ABjordanMM
September 10th 2021


1740 Comments


This confirms that the band is at their best with short runtimes

letsgofishing
September 10th 2021


1626 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"The production is immaculate, the mix is perfect, the aesthetics are without equal."



I mean...I don't think so?



This was a pretty meh first listen to me and a ravishingly beautiful fourth listen - I could definitely see an argument for this being a 5. But, I don't think it's the picture of utter perfection. the mixing still seems uneven to me, the vocals seem thin and buried in a quite a few moments. I understand the cowboy-on-meth-fever-dream-psychadelia vibe the band is going for, but I don't know why that requires that I strain to make out the vocals on this project.



It's a pretty good review, but it reads more like you're running around in circles until you hyperventilate and pass out than you giving an clear rational argument for a 5.



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