Scythe – Subterranean Steel (R.I.P. Records)

Friday, 13th September 2013
Rating: 8/10

Plenty of love for Usurper, not only for their homage to the Celtic Frost song of the same name, but for their unassuming, yet convincing brand of retro death/thrash. (Well, they were pretty assuming wearing those chains, to be frank.) They were retro before being retro was cool (it’s not cool now, actually), but eventually sputtered out thanks to lineup changes and record label dysfunction. Thankfully, mainman Rick Scythe has reemerged with the appropriately-named Scythe in 2009, churning out the Beware the Scythe debut in 2012, and in quick turnaround fashion, Subterranean Steel follows suit.

Rick Scythe’s involvement alone suggests that Scythe will ramble down the roads of vintage, old-school metal, and naturally, that is the case here. Even with such tags hanging around, the band’s punchy antics have no issue resonating – just check out the brutal “October Dies,” or the relentless pounding of “The Grunting Dead.” Like in his prior act, Rick’s riffs are simple, but pack quite the crunch, thus becoming the central point of emphasis on “The Bray Beast,” while speedy “Nights of Terror” ends up as the album’s highwater mark – a thrash race to the death.

There’s an obvious cheesy element to what Scythe is doing (read: the cover art dulls some of the intimidation factor), yet the nine songs that make up Subterranean Steel have plenty of traction; sort of like a spiked gauntlet to the bands who are doing retro metal because they can’t think of anything else to do. Nice to see a band have an actual clue how to pay homage properly.

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