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Scorched-Earth - "Mars" (CD)

Scorched-Earth - "Mars" CD cover image

"Mars" track listing:

1. Warlords Of Mars
2. The Gods Themselves
3. Devils In Iron
4. No Blade Of Grass
5. Hell On Mars
6. Spearhead From Space
7. The Knights Of The Black Cross vs. The Reavers Of the Red Death
8. Out Of The Violent Planet
9. The Dead Of Winter

Reviewed by on October 2, 2010

"In some ways, 'Mars' is a bit of a throwback to the early days of thrash, with a bargain-basement sound and a fuck-it-all nihilism that definitely has some dark appeal."

Mars is the "red planet" because its sands are soaked with the blood of religious fanatic invaders and the brutal inhabitants who "welcome them to drown in their own blood." At least that's the premise of Scorched-Earth's black-metal-tinged thrash album, "Mars." It's perhaps a little high-minded to call it a "concept album," but there's definitely a story here, with plenty of guts and little glory.

In some ways, "Mars" is a bit of a throwback to the early days of thrash, with a bargain-basement sound and a fuck-it-all nihilism that definitely has some dark appeal. In other words, it's obvious that the band has been listening to some Slayer. Guitarists Terry McCorriston and Ted Cohn definitely have the whole Hanneman-King thing down, launching into lightspeed solos at the drop of the hat — and ending them just as fast.

Unlike a lot of thrashers, Scorched-Earth has some room in the mix for bass guitar, and on tracks like "Warlords Of Mars" and the instrumental "No Blade Of Grass," Sanford Johnson makes his presence known quite well. His best work, though, is a neat instrumental section on "Knights Of The Black Cross vs. The Reavers Of the Red Death" that's not quite a solo, but definitely has a bit of a Cliff Burton vibe to it.

Unfortunately, drummer Joshua Hanenburg is no Dave Lombardo, and on a couple of tracks (most notably "Spearhead From Space" and "Hell On Mars"), the rhythm train seems to go flying right off the tracks. To be fair, that may have to do with the fact that often, the band is playing so fast — and the sound is so tinny — that all you can really hear is his snare drumming and cymbals.

If you're looking for lyrical subtlety, the closest you're going to come is McCorriston spitting out, "We come in peace! Convert or die!" And, naturally, all life on Earth comes to an end in "The Dead Of Winter" — "Give Peace a Chance," this ain't.

Some down-to-Earth rhythm and production issues keep Scorched-Earth's "Mars" from being an out-of-this-world experience. Still, I've got to say that in terms of sheer speed and fury, it's got its share of dark charm.

Highs: "The Knights Of The Black Cross vs. The Reavers Of the Red Death," "No Blade Of Grass" and "Warlords Of Mars."

Lows: Tinny sound and some rhythm issues.

Bottom line: Speedy, angry thrash, marred only by some rhythm issues and tinny sound.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)