|8th of April, 2022
Fucking Kill Records
(under license of F.D.A. Records)
Due to unfortunate events we probably all observed, the theme of war has once more been shifted to major attention in 2022 when Russia invaded the Ukraine on the 24th of February. As shocked and distant audience, we were initially forced to watch remotely what marked the first offensive assault on a country in Europe since the Yugoslav Wars in the beginning of the 1990s. Sad and disturbing news constantly revolved in our closer surrounding and anticipations of further proceedings during the still ongoing aggressive war marked the most frightening scenarios. Shortly before the outbreak of this war, German Death Metal outfit Scalpture released their third full-length Feldwärts that is embedded in the overarching theme of World War I. The question obviously is – when reality already serves with the worst of probabilities causing war next door, is it legit to listen to a release that finds its theme in this exact framework? The answer is – yes – and there are several reasons why.
Scalpture is a five-member outfit hailing from the surroundings of Bielefeld, Germany. With their full-length debut Panzerdoktrin that was released in 2016, they offered a massive tribute to a sound very reminiscent of Bolt Thrower yet carrying salient elements of Asphyx as well. The strong combination of the British and Dutch sound of Death Metal crushed upon you with a release I personally discovered shortly before the second full-length Eisenzeit was released. I can still remember listening to Panzerdoktrin and getting stuck on the phrase “Panzer…Hooray!” The band got me hooked in the first place and secured their position with the second full-length that was released in 2020. Now, only two years later, Scalpture return with their third full-length Feldwärts that – as a minor spoiler – surely marks their most mature release since their early days.
We are served again with the finest sound of Asphyx Thrower in the manner of Scalpture – bringing you crushing mid-tempo Death Metal steamrolling your sonic perception only with the finest of riffing, blasting and growling. For all the OGs in the Scalpture discography, the massive sound remains and those guys strike back showcasing the ability to write riffs that have every heart of the Bolt Thrower fan community skip a beat a few seconds into the first track. Especially when comparing to the previous releases, the first aspect that is striking when listening to Felwärts is the immense energy that is conveyed on this release. Although the force was strong with this band from the beginning, it seems as if this full-length puts extra strength on the neckbreaking impact of the combination of the synergy of Dutch and English Death Metal.
What is quite striking on this release regarding the instrumentation is the capability of the band to construct themes that are carried on along the entire tracks. Especially on the first five tracks, Scalpture manage to integrate recurring riffs (“Ils N’ont Pas Passé”) or melodies (“Grabengott”) that are carried on during the entire song structure. This is an element that massively influences the memorability of the single tracks on this album having you identify the tracks you listened to after the first run through the album already. Acoustic intros and interuldes as on “Challenging an Empire” that carry the vibe of a combination of Death Metal and Post-Metal as well as chants of a choir on “Ils N’ont Pas Passé” only mark several of the highlights that are interwoven in the tracks on this album.
This is synergized with the strong arrangements that both accomplish to construct tracks that simply do not turn out boring as well as manage to generate a driving force during the transitions from one sequence to another. The alteration of ordering the arrangements of the sequences within the tracks is an immensely convincing aspect that has your attention consistently kick back while listening. On the other hand, the transition showcases skills regarding the songwriting since especially that feeling of having half of the instruments already kicking in the following sequence while the rest still remains in the prevalent one – only to fully crush in half into the following beat as for example on “Stahlbad” spawns that sound to wreck your furniture to.
Even during rather simple yet recurring (and effective) slower mosh sequences on this album, especially the guitar sound generates that extreme force that has you headbang no matter where you are right now. This especially comes from the fact that the guitars are not overtly distorted, there is this massively crunchy distortion sound that strongly highlights the mid-tempo sequences your neck won’t be thankful for. The interplay of the guitar sound together with the punchy drums marks the overarching sound that boosts the crushing riffing Scalpture presents on all of the nine tracks on this album.
Although the guitars have received some love both for the sound and the riffing, it is necessary to mention the rest of the instruments as well. There are several tracks on which the bass steps into the forefront during shorter sequences, popping off in the background out of nowhere shredding some decent tones and then stepping back into the line for the synergy of the entire sound. On tracks such as “Challenging an Empire” and “Grabengott” (and even more) it is highly recommendable to listen closely to what the bass is doing. The drumming finishes this off by combining several styles with classy blast beats, mid-tempo rhythms as well as Punk-nuanced D-Beat playstyles that energize the sound at many spots.
On “Stahlbad” drums and guitars show a massive capability of opening up with a staggering Doom sound that is carried on during the first sequence eventually crushing into a faster mid-tempo sound. On this track I was definitely wondering why Scalpture did not venture to write an entire Death Doom track – especially going by the fact of one of the two seemingly major influences of the band being set on the Dutch Death Metal spheres. Don’t get me wrong, the track is still massive, but a Death Doom track at the end of the release would have rounded it up even more with a great surprise (it still is a fucking great record!). The double lead melody in the beginning is awesome and during the mid-sequence of “Through Hell and On,” Scalpture once more showcase that they are capable of playing a strong Death Doom sound – why not try?
When having opened up this review, I stated that it definitely is legit to listen to this album even though the framework of current reality might suggest otherwise. Especially taking a closer look at the cover artwork by Eliran Kantor gives insight in the perspective that is chosen by Scalpture when addressing the subject of war. A soldier standing next to a mirroring object showcases no issues when first taking a glance, yet when taking a look at the reflection it is possible to see that the side of the face that is turned away is seriously injured. This artwork already emphasizes the fact that Scalpture agitates the subject of war especially focusing on the utter physical as well as psychological horrors it does to everyone involved. The fact that the injury can only be seen in the mirror might also be an allusion that some of the most serious damages to people affected by war are not in the forefront, they take place in the mind of the people. Going by the lyrics as well as the fact of making use of English, German as well as French also displays the abstract perspective that is chosen in order to convey the different subjects arising from Word War I on this album. There is no glorification – this does not glamorize war at all.
Even with the first tracks released off this album I already started expecting that Feldwärts will mark a massive step up compared to the already very convincing Eisenzeit – and after having listened to the entire album several times I can admit that this is definitely true. The songwriting seems in the absolute right spot, the production perfectly highlights the probable intention of the sound and the memorability of those tracks is immense. If you still do not know this band, better set your start with this album and work your way backwards.
There were four different pressings of Feldwärts – three different ones were available via F.D.A. Records directly, the black pressing is limited to 200 and the red and blue pressing are limited to 100. Apart from that, there also was an exclusive blue-clear marbled and limited to 100 variant via Fucking Kill Records that is now sold-out already. You can still grab the blue and black pressing via F.D.A. Records, though, so better be quick!