Released: 2013, earMusic
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
With a lineup that includes ex-The Haunted/Facedown frontman Marco Aro, ex-In Flames guitarists Jesper Strömblad and Glenn Ljungström and ex-Kaamos drummer Chris Barkensjö, Swedish all-stars The Resistance would seem to be a can't lose proposition. But the proof is in the pudding, and after last year's pretty tasty Rise From Treason EP, the band largely prove themselves worthy of the promise of their pedigree on their debut full-length.
“Fire in the hole!” Aro shouts at the outset before the band launch headlong into “Clearing The Slate.” And that's not just an idle threat. Scars is explosive, irascible and bristling with the kind of unbridled energy and balls that both The Haunted (who’s future is now uncertain at best) and In Flames left behind some time ago.
The Resistance don't try to reinvent the wheel here, nor rehash their earlier work. Instead, they take an old school Swedish death 'n roll foundation that recalls Wolverine Blues-era Entombed, give it some technical flash and hardcore menace and just let loose. Scars is a rough and tumble 12 tracks with an emphasis on rough. The production here is noticeably rawer than the comparatively slick EP, but is a pretty good fit for the band's all-ahead-full presentation – as is Aro's assertive, agitated bellow.
The instrumental dazzle Strömblad and Ljungström showed on In Flames' crucial The Jester Race and Whoracle albums is largely absent here, save for the infrequent harmonized solos, giving way to gnashing riffs that gallop along to Barkensjö's d-beat tempos. “The Serpent King” and “(I Will) Die Alone” do have their In Flames-y moments of gritty melody, but they are fleeting as the band seem to have gotten most of that out of their system on the EP.
A bit more of that actually probably wouldn't have hurt here, as The Resistance's snub-nosed approach feels a bit “same-y” over the course of 12 tracks. Sure, it's good to see these guys getting their aggression on again, but ignoring the melodic sensibilities they have used quite effectively in the past leaves one key bullet in the chamber.