Tuesday 20 August 2019

Sceptre - One Shot One Kill (2019)

Country: India
Style: Thrash Metal
Rating: 6/10
Release Date: 14 Aug 2019
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I try out a lot more albums than I review here at Apocalypse Later, staying with what seems like good stuff, and I was very close on giving up on this EP by Indian thrash metal band Sceptre. And by Indian, I don't mean Native American; I mean a band from India, Bombay in this case.

Initially it seemed decent enough. I liked the music immediately, which was both crafted and played very well. I got a Death Angel vibe and that stayed in for much of the album. However, the production is off, the guitars muddy and the vocals far too high in the mix. And, talking of vocals, I absolutely wasn't a big fan of the vocals, which seemed immediately amateurish, almost like a fan singing along over the band's instrumentation.

Just as I was going to move onto something else, those vocals switched it up with an eye-opening section akin to black metal shrieks and I started really paying attention. The longer I listened, the more I liked. The music kept getting better and the vocals started to get interesting. There are points with two voices contributing at once, so I'm not sure if we have one singer or two.

Somehow, while the voice is still too high in the mix on the title track, it seems more palatable and, again, the music is fantastic, courtesy primarily of the guitarists, Gilroy Fernandes and Ronojoy Barooah, but with excellent support from Aniket Waghmode behind the drumkit. The bassist is Janus Sayal and he does a solid job too.

Sceptre have been around for quite a while, which translates to a heck of a long while for India. They were formed in the last millennium, back in 1998, and they put out a self-titled EP a year later. While I don't think they've ever disbanded, they didn't release a full length album until 2008 with one more following in 2013. That's hardly a particularly impressive output for a fifteen year existence and they've been quiet on the recording front since.

I, for one, am glad they're back. I chatted recently about the Indian metal scene with the guitarist from another Indian band and he kindly provided me with a brief list of bands to look out for. Sceptre were in that list and I see why. Musically, they're fantastic and they get better as this five track EP runs on. Flesh Eaters has neat, predatory riffs and it grows well until a glorious escalation at the end. Fear the Mob is better still, grounded in a set of solid riffs.

If the vocals remain the weakest link, they get better as well, notably so on Hate Infested. Maybe the more modern Metallica does groove metal sound works better for the lead vocalist, whose name I'm seeing as Gary Glorious. If there are multiple vocalists in play, I'd like to know which are him and which are whoever else contributes. The vocals on this closer sound as much like a different singer as whoever provides the shrieks.

At the end of the day, this is great thrash with wildly inconsistent vocals and I plan to track down those prior albums to see how things play out with them.

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