posted on 8/2005 By:
And here I was thinking that all of those ska bands from the late nineties jumped ship for emo. Skarp is a band who describe themselves as former Choking Victim disciples, which will be enough to put off some listeners by itself. Oddly enough, the band has apparently abandoned their upstroked guitars and chessboard-pattern guitar straps in favor of something more or less unheard of these days: a virtually untouched brand of genre hybridization. Specifically, Skarp has engineered a fusion of melodic black metal and crusty hardcore, of all things, which as far as I know is a new thing in the metal world. Even more surprisingly, the band makes the oddball combination work, and Requiem is thick with adept songwriting and high-quality riffs.
One would think that such an odd coupling of styles would make for choppy, piecemeal songwriting, but Skarp have crafted a collection of tracks that might make you consider just how much of a punk influence black metal has after all. Songs like “Requiem” blend scathing tremolo blasts with desperately melodic, His Hero Is Gone-styled punk fairly evenly, while other parts of the album lean more heavily one way or the other. The general trend is more towards black metal early in the album, with the speed-laden “Turn Away,” “Industrialized,” and “Cold Blue Serenity,” while the ear-splitting punk rock of “One In Five” and especially “Not A Human” dominate Requiem’s later tracks. The range of moods here is surprisingly broad; from the speed and power of “Fuck Your Bad Day” to the contemplative doom of “Absence” to the oddball ska throwback that breaks up “Hooks,” Skarp are versatile without bogging down in forced eclecticism. The eminent Billy Anderson’s production job is clear without belying the band’s underground aesthetic, while Skarp themselves are tight if unflashy musicians. It’s difficult to find any real fault on this album at all; even vocalist Renae Betts’ occasional melodic shouting is done tastefully.
It’s easy to see why Jello Biafra considered this band worthy of his Alternative Tentacles label; despite Skarp’s seemingly out-of-place metal leanings, they possess a level of inventiveness and originality that is a distinct hallmark of their labelmates. It’s a shame this band will go largely unnoticed, as there are scads of metalheads who would undoubtedly love the dark melodies and blistering aggression to be had on this album. Requiem is extremely well written and, more importantly, endowed with a modicum of originality in the saturated metal scene. You’d be foolish to let this one slip by unheard.
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