Reviewed: [September 2020]
Released [2020 Gore House Productions]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
I learned something today. Assuming Scottish death metal brutes Scordatura took their name from some hideous disease or medical anomaly – a la Vulvodynia, Katalepsy, Ebola or even Anthrax – or some such, I Googled it for the hell of it just to see.
Much to my amazement, “Scordatura” had nothing to do with pustules in the nether regions or bleeding out your ass, etc. Instead, it’s a relatively benign musical term that, per Merriam-Webster, means “an unusual tuning of a stringed musical instrument for some special effect.” Indeed, the scariest part of it all might be that the term is applied largely to lutes!
Anyway, I tell you that to tell you this, there are definitely no lutes to be found on the Scordatura’s third album, and the low-end, ball-crushing tone of Mass Failure certainly is not unusual by brutal death metal standards, although the production here is relatively clean and almost sleek by comparison. Where murky, vomitous mixes typically rule the day in this sub-genre, making the music all the more, well, brutal, Mass Failure is a big, brash wall of sound, giving it extra clarity and oomph. And there’s certainly something to be said for that.
It’s fitting, too, since frontman Daryl Boyce eschews the usual choke-and-puke urpiness, and one can actually kinda understand what he’s saying at least some of the time. His rapid-fire shouted delivery, punctuated by screeches, shrieks and growls, recalls Cannibal Corpse’s George Fisher or Cattle Decapitation’s Travis Ryan.
Mass Failure finds Scordatura mixing gut-punch brutal death metal chug with ample splashes of technical prowess, grind velocity, a bit of hardcore tenacity, and more topical, less crass lyrical fodder, again recalling the above mentioned Cattle Decapitation, who seem to have created a style all their own in recent years. And that’s certainly not a bad example to follow.
Why belch out more songs about rape and murder when we might staring the end of the world in the face? And while the Dahmer-esque overtones of “Contorted Existence” and “Skin Trophy” show the band haven’t completely gotten murder worship out of their system, Mass Failure’s apocalyptic vibe overall should hit much closer to home to most folks, for better or worse.