This is not what I expected from France's SCARVE, that being a change of direction back to more of a seemingly STRAPPING YOUNG LAD-inspired style that has more in common with 2002's "Luminiferous", which in no way means regression. The new album just happens to contrast with the comparatively stripped down sound heard on 2004's "Irradiant"."The Undercurrent" is a dark, dense, and nerve-fraying album that recalls some of SYL's more disorienting fare and ends up a treacherous voyage into the eye of the extreme music storm. You'll have many opportunities to peel away layers on "The Undercurrent", helping to give the album some lasting appeal. Vocalist Lawrence Mackrory (ex-DARKANE) stepped in to take over the spot left by Guillaume Bideau (now of MNEMIC) and allows for a seamless continuation of the band's exceptional use of two vocalists, utilizing two distinct (clean and gruff) styles. The SYL-isms are many here, particularly on "Imperceptible Armageddon", "Fathomless Descent", "Senseless", and "Rebirth", but bits and pieces are heard throughout. At the same time, SYL clones SCARVE are not. On the more accessible end of the spectrum, "Rebirth" features a chorus melody that reeks of Devin Townsend, the chunkiness of it an attribute heard on several tracks. The little changeups, such as the whispered vocals on "Fathomless Descent", or the spoken vocals on the verse of the creepy "A Few Scraps of Memories" (which moves from uneasy quietude to disruptive harshness), enhance the experience. "The Plundered" mixes in many of the best elements the band has to offer, incorporating sounds/feelings that run the gamut from seething anger to unsettling tunefulness to meaty rhythms and all points in between, not to mention a fiery guitar solo. Daniel Bergstrand's always tight and dynamic production gives those jolting SYL tremors and MESHUGGAH-esque flavors that much more oomph! And yeah, bandleader Dirk Verbeuren is one of the world's greatest drummers, his mind-boggling combination of speed, precision, and dexterity key elements in turning heaviness into frightening levels of aggression and technicality. "The Undercurrent" does not allow for easy consumption upon the first couple of spins, which fortunately means that, given time, the album becomes an adventurous and mostly satisfying experience. The one certainty is that Dirk and the boys have created some challenging, futuristic semi-thrash/semi-death metal over the years and "The Undercurrent" is no exception. The journey through the album may not be a smooth one (you better be in the mood for it too), but it sure is one that is difficult to forget.
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