Review: Atrament – Scum Sect

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Label: Sentient Ruin Laboratories

Atrament‘s previous album, Eternal Downfall, was a conscise blast of blackened crust, ticking all the right boxes without ever risking over-staying its welcome. The follow-up album, Scum Sect, largely picks up where that one left off; which is to say, it’s a barbaric onslaught of violence and filth, with D-beat rhythms providing the backdrop for riffs that are heavy in decay and danger. Given that Atrament contains members of bands such as Vastum, Necrot, and Abstracter, odds are you’ll come to Scum Sect with high expectations; and it’s safe to say that the album meets them.

In large part, Scum Sect is blackened crust stripped down to the bare essentials; there are no superfluous melodies, no drawn-out introductions, no excess at all. If you were to ask for a textbook example of what blackened crust should sound like, then Scum Sect would be as fine an album as any to present as a template. Yet this might seem unfair on the album, perhaps implying that Atrament are content to simply stick within the boundaries of their chosen style, which isn’t quite the case. There are some moments where the band subtly push at the boundaries of the genre, such as the mid-tempo riff that sees out the later half of ‘Boiling Blood’, or the semi-melodic opening to closer ‘This Night Shall Se No End’. Sure, tried-and-tested blackened crust forms up the majority of Scum Sect‘s DNA, with the influence of bands like Wolfbrigade and Discharge clear for all to hear, but that’s not all that there is to the album.

Of particular note is the atmosphere of the record; Scum Sect is far filthier and more cavernous than you’d normally expect from blackened crust (and considering that this isn’t exactly a genre known from big, bright productions, that’s saying quite something). The vocals, in particular, are cavernous, as if delivered by some apocalyptic madman who has been cast out of society for refusing to deny that the end-times aren’t so much coming, as they are already here. There’s also more than a hint of early Bolt Thrower to some of the riffs and leads. The album seethes with violence, but it’s of a darker, more insidious kind than you might expect for the genre, and it’s this which really makes Scum Sect stand out.

At less than a half hour in length, Scum Sect doesn’t stick around any longer than it needs to. Yet such is the ferocity of the record, this short running time doesn’t feel like an issue; were it any longer, there’s the risk it could become over-whelming, exhausting the listener beyond the point that the music is enjoyable or has the impact it desires. As it is, Scum Sect is a vicious little record, the kind that will make you want to rail against the injustices in the world in violent fashion in the most direct way possible.

Scum Sect is available on cassette, vinyl, and digitally via Bandcamp; on CD and vinyl from Blood Harvest Records; on vinyl and cassette from Sentient Ruin; and on cassette from Caligari Records.

 

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