Laying another huge prod on the world as the metal scene in India shows its current strength, thrashers Sceptre release their second album Age Of Calamity, a release which launches a blistering display of rhythmic and sonic predation to easily win over the passions. An album of ten stirring tempests, it is a skilled and inventive provocation which though maybe not ground-breaking makes for an exciting and enterprising treat. The craft and formidable accomplished statue of the album is not really a surprise since the band has been a major force in the Indian metal underground since forming in 1998. That time has only seen a single EP and album spread the word to the outside though, something which has not unsurprisingly yet achieved the strongest success in spreading the word further afield but with this impressive new assault maybe the Mumbai quartet’s time to waken the world to their presence has come.
Sceptre has gone through a few line-up changes over the past fifteen years whilst forging a strong live reputation which has been enhanced by their self-titled EP of 1999 and more so with the debut album Now or Never which came out in 2008. Now with a line-up of vocalist Samron Jude, guitarist Gilroy Fernandes, bassist Janus Sayal, and drummer Aniket Waghmode, the band make a loud and formidable statement with Age Of Calamity that cannot be ignored. Exploring a concept of attitudes towards women and society in general, the former an evocative and highlighted situation in regard to India over recent times in the eyes of the world, the album pulls no punches lyrically or musically yet looks at the issues with poise and compelling endeavour whilst igniting the imagination From the melodramatic slightly sinister and haunting intro Solitude, the album suggests and coaxes thoughts and emotions, often dragging them into the heart of the album as the subsequent songs unleash a compulsive fury.
The second and title track goes straight for the jugular physically and emotively, riffs and rhythms laying a rapacious hand on the ears whilst a potent groove entices even greater attention to the emerging storm. The vocals of Jude are soon scowling and barracking with a strong and appealing causticity which is harsh but allows clarity to the lyrical narrative for full inciting effect. Stomping with a thrash bred urgency and hunger the song equally veins its charge with tight and engaging sonic designs around a great throaty bass intimidation, the blend breeding a sound which is somewhere between Testament and Exodus with All That Remains.
The following Wrath of God raises the temperature and strength of the album to even greater heights from the impressive start, its swipes of acidic guitar flames and predatory intensity clad riffs irresistible especially within a framework of antagonistic and feverish rhythms. A varied scourge of vocals from clean to guttural voracity only accelerates the toxicity of the scintillating track whilst its niggling groove within further thrash fuelled rabidity cements lustful responses for its outstanding tsunami of passion and predation. Its anthemic core is equalled in might by the next up Prophesy Deceit, a deliberately seductive beast with addictive grooves and strict riffery aligned to stalking rhythms and the continuing to please vocal delivery where again the lyrics are allowed a clear persuasion within their raw and combative intent.
Arguably the two songs make the pinnacle of the album though it is a continuing debate when the likes of Lake of the Traitor, a song dawning on elegant melodies evolving into rasping aggressive incitation developing an eventual contagion which gives little respite in its bait, and the equally addictive scourge Fatal Delay explore their depths with adventure. The second of the pair has a waspish lilt to its riffs and grooves merged into annihilistic ferociousness vocally and sonically. The track epitomises a Sceptre track, eventful, unpredictable, but persistently accessible with the kind of familiarity you embrace rather than dismiss.
7 Seals employs similar exploits in riffs and grooves to its predecessor and some other tracks but with a raptorial charge to its body and infectious potency to its persuasion makes for a tasty morsel to rage with whilst Parasites (of the State) provides a ruinous expanse of emotive frustration and aural antagonism which only adds further sustenance to an already greedy appetite for the album. Though both songs fail to reach the same levels in adventure and temptation as predecessors neither leaves satisfaction low or pleasure hungry, the same easily applying to Judgement Day (End – A New Beginning), a very decent melodic outro to the album and the following bonus track Lest We Forget which brings the album to an end. The song is more metalcore borne and does fall in the wake of the more trash led adventurous triumphs elsewhere, but it is impossible to ignore the craft and passion igniting its caustic breath and sizeable creativity.
Age Of Calamity is a gripping and impressively enjoyable brawl on the senses and emotions which may not be setting new boundaries for thrash/metal as a whole but in providing an intensively thrilling and addictive onslaught of craft and enterprise makes it and Sceptre a must check out and have encounter for 2014.
Age of Calamity will be released on February 9, 2014.
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