Release DetailsLABEL Witches Brew
RELEASED ON 7/1/2004
The Process of Rotting
posted on 3/2005 By:
North Germany’s death metal partnership of Sven and Norman have returned with the follow up to 2003’s superb Poetry of Illusion; an intoxicating album in its own right which produced the beautiful piece “Late Summer” that is to this day one of my favorite metal songs of all time. In their previous efforts Scythe were best described as a more focused Orchid era Opeth; the 1970’s influence of early doom metal was clear and their songs were written in elaborate fashion while avoiding the Åkerfeldt descent into monotony. Using the term peaceful to describe this breed of metal may not seem fitting but anyone who knows the somber distorted guitar tones of Opeth and Agalloch that give those bands their doom-like quality will understand what I am talking about. Scythe’s last two full length recordings possessed a very tranquil vibe with a focus on nature both in lyrical themes and aesthetics. Acoustic passages amidst the more expansive and powerful moments of their songs have always been speckled with samples of wind and water giving the band a very harmonious vibe. What Scythe created in only two albums was truly a relaxing heavy perfection and my only complaint with the older albums was the slightly suspect clean vocals; luckily there is none of that to speak of this time around.
Elements of the style which attracted me to the band in the first place still lurk within the shadowy recesses on The Process of Rotting but there are some very noticeable differences between the Scythe of 2003 and what they have offered up this year. Gone is the mellow guitar tone and laid back growl of Sven’s vocals, replaced with a vicious distortion and murderous bark I would normally associate with an early Dismember album. A good deal of the riff work seems to have also taken a step towards the Stockholm sound and though there is still a good amount of scopious guitar playing, the result is a loss of cohesion between the two elements this band straddles which drew so many Opeth comparisons in the past. Oddly enough there are times when the duo finds a way to make it work and a few songs fall perfectly into place. “Silent is the Future” exemplifies the melding of both approaches and sees the new ideas finding their feet but other examples such as “More Than Only Dead” give the impression that one is privy to yet another ‘old school’ retro death metal album.
One specific track which sticks out for me because of its entirely uncharacteristic nature is "Son of the winter." Here the band performs a total stylistic leap both in production and song structure into the realm of black metal. Sounding more like something that belongs on the Srontgorrth album recorded by their country mates Nagelfar than any of their previous work, it is a truly bewildering five minutes. Though the scathing shift into corpse paint is well executed, it still serves to furrow my eyebrows further as I ponder the already considerable stylistic change Scythe has made. The Process of Rotting is an immensely enjoyable listen but in the end I feel a bit let down by a band that has consistently improved with each effort. The dreaded third album is historically the stumbling block in the road to career longevity within the metal underground but the impression I get from this disc is that Scythe are in a transitional phase. If anything, I would bet that The Process of Rotting will act as a chrysalis for the band and they will emerge ready to abolish any concerns raised by this outing with a masterpiece.
Choice Cuts: “Silent is the Future” “Path in the Snow”
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