Genre: Death Metal | Label: Lunar Tomb Records
Location: Oakland, CA| Listen: Bandcamp
A personal anecdote: while planning a west coast tour in 2013, I learned that we were going to play a couple shows with this Oakland based death metal band called Scolex. I looked into them and was pleasantly surprised with what I heard: evil riffs with an emphasis on groove and feel, like a marriage between Autopsy and Bolt Thrower. They turned out to be awesome live, and I was sure to grab their newly released 12″ EP, “Torn From Beyond.” It’s a catchy slab of mid-paced death metal, with infectiously ominous riffs throughout each of the four tracks.
Scolex are the brainchild of bassist Erika Osterhout, and vocalist/guitarist/drummer Justin Green. Despite the record showing four members in the photos, these songs were actually recorded as a two piece, with Danny Coralles of Autopsy playing lead guitar on two tracks. As mentioned, this has a huge amount of Autopsy and Bolt Thrower influence, but it leans heavy into the slower death/doom and mid-paced grooves of those bands. The groovier parts themselves are by no means throwaway dummy riffs, but fully realized, intricate phrases. There’s plenty of musicality shown here, with use of guitar harmonies on the tail ends of riffs.
As these songs are generally dominated by slower parts, they tend to build up to faster sections, as seen in “Dweller of the Twilight Void” when the drums finally hit a blast beat later in the track. In addition to Green’s death metal growls, Osterhout layers in her own growls throughout, giving more depth in that department. This is on full display with the title track, during the chorus riff that sounds like a predator stalking its prey. This song also has some pounding double kick parts that further break up the mid-paced sections. Likewise, “Infinite Monolith” utilizes some punk beats for the same purpose, and this further adds to the catchy nature of these songs.
The recording here is fantastic, especially for an EP. Everything is clear without sounding artificial, a trend that seems to follow Osterhout on all her recordings. The drum performance is easy to appreciate thanks to a balanced sound, and the guitars and bass sound huge and warm together.
Scolex have only one other release under their belt – a split 7″ – and with members living in different parts of the US, we may not hear much else from them. What Scolex lacks in quantity, however, is surely made up with the quality of their material. The four tracks that make up “Torn from Beyond” are sure to make any death metal fan want more, but repeated listens will have to do for now. For those that need more, Osterhout’s bands Necrosic and Chthonic Deity share similar influences and are not to be missed.