There’s something deeply satisfying and rather addictive about Scorpion Child’s self-titled debut album. Delving deep into the legacy of the early 70s blues-powered hard rock and original-metal groove, while channeling some more recent stoner-metal/rock, the band manages to capture not just the brawny riffs and thunderous drums (and hair-stylings) of the old-school era, but also some of its trippy, universe-embracing lyrical vibe.
The easy comparisons are bands like Led Zeppelin, Rainbow, Uriah Heep, and Orange Goblin. But that’s just the back-story: this band is definitely their own thing and the real deal. The sound is loose and free, with Cowart and Frank’s twinned guitar-engine driving the music: not because of their solos, but because of the riffs. It’s all about the riffs, man, and the riffs here are delicious: fat and tasty with a side dish of hook, line, and sinker.
Bass-player Avants and drummer Alvear also show off their chops, putting a serious depth and strong, tidal undertow into every track. As for the vocals… well, now… I worship at the altar of Robert Plant, and it’s not often I hear a voice that brings him to mind, but that is what front-man Aryn Jonathan Black does. For an example, just listen to his voice in full flight on the wistful “Red Blood (The River Flows)”.
Scorpion Child show their true, tie-dyed colors right off the bat on “Kings Highway”, with vocals that both wail and woo you, and that simply irresistible tug of the guitars. The band then slides right into the brilliantly hooky “Polygon Of Eyes”, with riffs heavy enough to rough up your bones, and drums with enough power to tilt you over. “The Secret Spot” is another favorite of mine with its rough and dirty feel; and for some holy-moly rock-ness there’s the bone-heavy grind and grit of “Salvation Slave” – its guitars and bass echoing through a distant purple haze.
The band’s underlying bluesy, metal-infused vibe flows through the album from start to finish, tying it all together. It’s there in more straight-up hard-rockers like the terrific “Liquor”, and the strong, fast and raw “Paradigm”. And it’s there in trippier tunes like “Antioch” with its initial laid-back vibe and acoustic guitar, leading into some more hot-handed guitar licks. The psychedelic vibe is maybe at its strongest on “In The Arms Of Ecstasy”, with Black’s vocals riding those throbbing riffs all the way through.
Scorpion Child is obviously a band with both a clear vision of what they want to do, and the chops to bring it to life. They might be at their strongest when they rock the hell out, giving a psychedelic glow to that old-school, blues-grooving metal and hard rock, but they bare some promising depth in their slower, more soulful moments as well.
Quite simply, this album is a knockout – or, to quote the 1970s: “it’s far out, man”.
- Aryn Jonathan Black:vocals
- Shaun Diettrick Avants:bass
- Christopher Jay Cowart:lead guitar
- Shawn Paul Alvear:percussion
- Tom “The Mole” Frank:rhythm guitar
- Kings Highway
- Polygon of Eyes
- The Secret Spot
- Salvation Slave
- In The Arms Of Ecstasy
- Red Blood (The River Flows)
This review was originally published at Hard Rock Nights.