Released: 2013, Primitive Reaction Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Let's cut to the chaste where Chicago powerhouse Scythe are concerned: they don't fuck about. Glued from the crumbling bones of Usurper and with one sterling release already under their belts, the trio have now unleashed their second effort, which batters its way through innovative and musically-competent gates with finesse and unfettered brutality. It also, for the record, blows its predecessor completely out of the blackened water.
Death metal and thrash are quality subgenres to tie together, and Scythe's take on merging crunching riffs with ruthless tremolo patterns and pummelling rhythms is one that is both unusual and addictive. Speed, precision and interesting technicality forged with pulverising aggression slaps you into attention, while the group's splicing of the record with slower, doomy nuances and atmosphere not only testifies their musical awareness, but the prismatic influences abounding within. Venom and Celtic Frost tussle Sodom and Overkill, in a pastiche that is at once pacing, furious, intricate and complex. Eponymous frontman Rick Scythe's vocals are drowned in effects to the point of disappearing from the front line, but the result is that of dark and harrowing bassy growls: a perfect complement to his stunning improvisational and rhythm guitar work.
Yet flavours of both the old-school and the modern haven't prevented some internet-floating complaints of genericism in the writing of Subterranean Steel's songs, in comparison to Usurper's early days. Yes, track lengths are more compact and ideas more cyclical. But that doesn't diminish the monumental power of the nine-tracker, nor undermine the strength of its skill and potential impact to both underground and wider spheres. Every single number is a tower of fierce groove, melody and thrashing aural assault. With credentials and creativity to burn, it's really no small wonder that Scythe have been carving a respectable niche for themselves in murkier metal sectors so far, but rest assured that this sophomore baby will increase their influence tenfold.
If intelligent fusion and searing heaviness are on your check list, this record is an absolute must. Don't be afraid of the dark...
Review by Rhiannon Marley