I discovered Scorpion Child through a free iTunes download of their first single, Polygon of Eyes. Never one to pass up a freebie, I was intrigued by their retro sound. After it came up a few more time on my iPhone, I decided to go for the whole album and that turned out to be a pretty good decision!
I started mentally cataloging the influences while listening to the album in preparation for writing this review, but soon gave up. They sound like they took about 50 hard rock records from the 70’s and 80’s, melted them all together and used that sludge to press their new record. (And anyone arguing that’s not how you make a record has obviously never seen the Killer Dwarfs video for Stand Tall.) The Austin quintet is fronted by Aryn Jonathan Black who at times sounds like a young Robert Plant fronting a hair metal band from the 80’s, and while I realize this pretty much pegs them as a Kingdom Come rip-off 25 years too late, their music is much more interesting than that.
They’re not exactly re-inventing their influences, as opposed to the Black Keys, for example, who assimilated their 70’s roots and built their own sound on top of it, but Scorpion Child repackages those influences in a way that should interest any fan of classic rock and hard rock. Listen to the two tracks below; if you like those, you’re pretty much guaranteed to like the whole album.
The last few years have seen quite a few very cool retro-sounding bands appear: Wolfmother, The Sheepdogs, Monster Truck, and now Scorpion Child are making old in again, while going ahead and forging their own identities out of those influences. Music history has always been a pendulum, going from very emotional to very cerebral and back again, but of course everything happens faster in our century, so musical styles come back after 20 years, not 120.
The guys in Scorpion Child made a wise decision in settling down in Austin, the self billed Live Music Capital of the World: they sound like a band that has paid its dues, playing countless of shows to turn their band into a tightly crafted unit. They need that credibility to make it. I hope they are successful enough to have the chance to make a second album: I’m curious to see where they can go if they start developing their own sound. The fact that they signed with Nuclear Blast, a definitely heavy metal dedicated label, makes me think the majors passed on them. In the long run, it might be for the best for them, despite the mismatched labelmates: they’ll probably be able to keep their identity far longer.
**** out 5
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- Scorpion Child reveal video for riff-laden song Polygon Of Eyes (valkyrianmusic.com)
- SCORPION CHILD Announce Headlining Fall Tour With KADAVAR, GYPSYHAWK, WILSON, MOTHERSHIP (bravewords.com)