Released: 2006, n/a
Reviewer: Bruce Sanchez
In 2006, Scorched-Earth Policy released MMVI, a monolithic thrash album of the modern age. Previously, the Bay Area, California based band had put out a number of albums, including 2001’s TONES OF AMBIVALENCE XCIX/BOOTCAMP, but it is MMVI that really captures the essence of SEP. Since they are about to drop their next release later this year, I think it's only appropriate to revisit MMVI.
The heart, soul, brain, and balls of SEP have always been guitarist Mark Lamb, bassist Terry Goss, and drummer Lance Lea. Nowhere in the band’s catalogue is this more apparent than on MMVI: they pushed the SEP sound to the heaviest, darkest, and most progressive depths of the metal spectrum. The five-piece that created TONES/BOOTCAMP had become a trio; never looking back, they set out to write the most crushing album they could.
And they did. Lamb and Goss both deliver heartfelt vocals and gut-busting screams (along with a guest appearance by now current SEP vocalist, Judd "I never run out of oxygen" Mason). Musically, I am hard pressed to find a single note that doesn't fit or work. Each song is masterfully crafted; the compositions are at times complex, soulful, inspired, and pure metal, yet none of it screams pretentious. They take their music seriously, but not themselves. This is exemplified in Mark Lamb's love song to Elvis, “Still the King”. Lamb makes his SEP drum debut here, which he describes as “butchery” in the linear notes. The penultimate track, “Memorial Day”, is a dedication to fallen rock and roll vets who passed on during the recording of MMVI. Its clean tone and waling solos are brave and even touching. The album ends with a (better mixed) cover of Neil Young's “Don't Let It Bring You Down”, which originally appeared on their SALVAGE NOTHING EP.
Lyrically, the album is smart, well thought out, chilling, sometimes clear and sometimes cryptic. The entire album hearkens back to days of intelligent and poignant lyrics. They really make a lot of bands, new and old, sound juvenile and comical, but, being the rock geeks and historians that they are, the members of SEP would never admit to that.
I've been working on this review for nearly three years, but never put anything down on paper. Thoughts, phrases, summations—they come and go. But what endures, years after my initial listen, is just how perfect this album is. I would think that, after so long, I’d finally be able to review it in a way that does it justice. But words still don't quite capture the experience of MMVI. Is it a revolutionary album? No. Yes. Maybe. The masses usually decide that. Yet SEP seems to be indifferent to the masses, and instead adheres strictly to their own mantra and way of life. And because of that, they earn and deserve the highest accolades.