Sunday, November 6, 2005

Review: Scavenger - Madness To Our Method (2004)

Scavenger [ MySpace ]
Madness To Our Method
Sentinel Records

On the eastern shore of Ireland, a short distance north of Dublin, rests the historical town of Drogheda and the home of Scavenger. Formed in 2001, this four-piece has begun to establish themselves on the local and international scenes as a highly talented metal band able to compose intricate songs that draw influences from several metal genres. Madness To Our Method is the band's debut release on Ireland's Sentinel Records.

I'll get the review started by jumping right to my favorite track, "Ethereal Journey", to elucidate the complex yet enjoyable sound of Scavenger. Beginning with a huge, driving riff from Noel Maher that's deepened by the plucky bass of Niall Cooney, the song rumbles on as Peter Dunne lends an armful of emotion to the lyrics. Sounding on this track a little like Geoff Tate, Peter generally remains in a rough mid-range voice throughout the album though at times he dips a bit lower. "Ethereal Journey" trundles on with varying riffs, which is really the key to Scavenger's successful formula. The band has a knack for incorporating not just one or two riffs into each song, but several. Not only does this keep the album fresh though its progression, but offers something new around each corner without fraying the cohesion of the tracks. The fluid guitar breakdown, one of the best moments on the album, aids the song in creating the listening experience indicated by the title.

Stepping back to the second track, "Storm Warning", we're treated to a thundering theme riff accompanied by tremendous double-kick from Johnny Kerr. Noel deftly launches some fine lead attacks, keeping with the Peter's angered vocals. Again, the song steers clear of repetition and instead brings a plethora of time changes and beat patterns to enjoy. While Noel's guitar is the lifeblood of Madness To Our Method, solos are distinctly rare. He unleashes a brief attack on "Storm Warning", but the intentional (or possibly unintentional) studio "enhancements" make the piece sound as if it was added as an afterthought.

The remainder of the tracks follow this pattern of blending thrashy riffs, traditional metal melodies, and progressive songwriting techniques to result in what is a very intriguing album. The exception to Scavenger's blueprint is the untitled fifth track, which is instead a moderately short, trance-inducing instrumental piece that managed to work itself in to being my second favorite track of the album. Essentially highlighting Noel's ability to step back from his huge riffs and take a much more subdued, almost reverent approach to his guitar playing, the track serves as a well-placed mood enhancer between the doomy "Prisoner of Time" and "Unstoppable Motion".

Fans of mid-period Black Sabbath will find Madness To Our Method to be a quality album, as will those who enjoy the work of such bands as Megadeth, Jag Panzer, and the like.

Track Listing
1On the Outside7:37
2Storm Warning5:27
3Ethereal Journey4:57
4Prisoner of Time9:23
6Unstoppable Motion5:14
7Daydreams in Dystopia7:44

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