Scorpion Child – Scorpion Child
Release Date: June 21, 2013
Scorpion Child’s eponymous debut captures the spirit of the desert, the open road and 70’s classic rock – channeling energy from some of rock’s most respected while adding a unique feel all their own. This album ranges from hard driving and loud to subdued and heartfelt all without anything sounding forced or stale. Keeping things interesting, there is a definite psychedelic undercurrent to the album that can be heard through the use of desert insect sounds, heavy mid-tempo grooves, and the occasional dripping wet guitar solo.
When I first put on album, I was greeted with a lone guitar riff and the gritty soulful vocals Aryn Jonathan Black, who sounds strikingly like Robert Plant, (which to any singer should be a huge compliment). This was a good indicator of what was to come, as it turns out, because Scorpion Child continued to come across with quality riff after riff with Black never failing to deliver.
Even if they didn’t have such a tremendous lead singer, the whole band would definitely be able to hold their own. Lead and rhythm guitarists Chris Cowart and Tom “The Mole” Frank have an interesting relationship in that they, like the rest of the band, work well playing very tight with each other and loose playing against each other. At times they play the same riff or harmonize, while other times one will play chords and the other will lead or they’ll both play different leads at the same time that work together quite nicely. Of course, these guitarists also know when to shut up and let the bass play, which is when Shaun Avants’ definite funkiness shines through. Far from being the basic background bassist, Avants tends to throw in complex riffs that stand on their own without clashing with the rest of the band or going over the top. Can’t forget about the drummer, though, and Shawn Alvear gets his fair share of the spotlight with energetic drum fills, creative beats, and a few little solos here and there.
Now, breaking down the album, you can definitely hear some of their influences on the tracks. The album opens up with “Kings Highway”, a groovy, headnodic song that starts out with heavy riff and rocking vocals (that I mentioned above) and then dives right into a powerful chorus that sounds a bit like the chorus of “What Is And What Can Never Be”, but not blatantly so. The verse that follows right after shows off some of their psychedelic side with sparse atmospheric guitars and a prominent bass riff, while the bridge near the end of the song has all of the musicians playing very loosely, bouncing off of each other while increasing the tension up till the final chorus.
Following in the footsteps of every band ever, the hit off of the album can be found on song two. This track, “Polygon Of Eyes” goes balls out with a catchy up tempo riff that sounds a little bit like something Wolfmother would do, (with much better vocals of course). The chorus is just as catchy as it breaks down into this epic stadium rock moment where you can just imagine a crowd of thousands chanting along with the lead singer as he belts “I Live On The Mountain…” . On top of all of this meat and potatoes rock there are some interesting little tidbits and flourishes in the form of guitar noodling and this awesome drum break in the beginning that really make this track great.
The rest of the album goes on to have its equal share of in-your-face explosiveness and in-your-head psychedelia. “Paradigm” rocks just as hard as “Polygon of Eyes” with a little more punk attitude by way of gang vocals and breakneck speed. There’s definitely enough energy in this song to cause a full-on mosh pit. There’s a little bit of guitar work, but I was expecting a full on solo to match the intensity of the song. “The Secret Spot” has this harmonized guitar riff and catchy chorus that keep the classic rock feel going while toning it down a bit a slower feel and semi romantic lyrics. “Liquor” and “In The Arms of Ecstasy” both have this southern rock feel to them with some twangy guitar riffs and lyrics about drinking and love. “In The Arms of Ecstasy” has this great Sabbath-esque breakdown while “Liquor” has a pretty satisfying bluesy guitar solo during the bridge.
Far from being one-dimensional, Scorpion Child aren’t afraid to show their softer side and churn out a few ballads. “Antioch” starts off with a quiet guitar riff and light background vocals complimenting the lead vocal, which to me sounding a bit like Oasis or some more modern 90’s era rock band. The song builds up slowly but surely into a climatic wall of distorted guitars, stadium size chorus about “not giving up” all topped off with a dual guitar solo. The ninth and final (or so they want you to think….) track, “Red Blood” opens up with some of the most beautiful acoustic guitar I’ve heard in a long time. Black sings along to this with a heartfelt melody and a mix of metaphorical and straightforward lyrics about love that never come across as contrived or cheesy. I can really feel the emotion in this, and I wasn’t expecting to from a band that started off their album so heavy. Predictably, this song builds into a guitar solo that is at this moment very melodic and a little spacey, which then drops off into the final acoustic kiss goodbye. As the album draws to a close, we end up surrounded by desert insects once more. This goes on for about five minutes until…well…something secret.
After my journey through the desert with this band, I can say that I’d happily make the trip again. There’s plenty of hard driving material to satisfy fans of classic 70’s rock as well as fans of newer bands in the same vein. There are a few parts in the album that drag a little, especially the song “Liquor” and the secret track at the end (that doesn’t exist shhh), but that’s to be expected from any band really. For a debut, I’d say they did a damn fine job. I can only hope the next one is just as good.