January 18th, 2011
Release length: 41:35
Desultory, unfortunately, never really became that widely known a group due to their short lifespan, but their material always put their best foot forward and demanded the respect of those who heard it, with obvious excpetion to Swallow the Snake, of course. Luckily, the ill-fated album is now what will become of Counting Our Scars, as this release feels more like the classic Desultory the fans have come to know and love throughout the years of waiting. The material here has that early Melodic Swedish Death Metal feel that is just caked with atmosphere at most times, such as the starting track “In a Cage”, where the band weaves a song that over has a fantastic faster intensity to it, but later become a more somber atmospheric piece with emotionally haunting guitars that work well to establiish this. The vocals for the recording, let alone this song, also help to administer the atmospheric concepts of the recording, being familiar to the approach that one can compare to latter At the Gates, but far stronger and more solid and emotionally driven to fit music. Of course, all of thisis the basic direction for the material on this release.
The production value of this recording is actually somewhat of a surprise. The quality of Counting Our Scars is actually quite clear, but it’s the distortion utilized, and the pure energy and talent that really drives the recording nicely. The band’s ability to weave fantastic emotional atmosphere into their music via the subtle Melodic Death Metal concepts, and their ability to make the music sound powerful and highly energetic really causes the release to spring to life, aided nicely by a little more then traditional distortion on the guitars, as well as some of the complexities in the performances for that instrument, even the drumming at times, greatly benefits many of the songs on here, including the aforementioned “In a Cage”, as well as the powerful “Counting Our Scars”.
For the most part, the recording seems to rely on all of the above performance and atmospheric conditions, which are more then enough to sell this record. However, Desultory does break away from the general intensity of the album for the track “The Moment is Gone”, which makes a nice break in that said intensity before it starts to get repetitive. The song goes at a much slower pace, and focuses more on the dismal, solitary atmosphere that the band includes at the end of “In a Cage”, as well as during some moments of “Counting Our Scars”. This track really comes off as one of the more impressive tracks because of the atmosphere and emotion, and will quickly become a favorite with it’s haunting guitars, especially during the chorus, and just strong presence with a great lack of any repetition, slightly blending some of the Rock concepts from the ill-fated Swallow the Snake, but in a manner that is far more appropriate for a proper Desultory effort. “Dead Ends”, however, has some random slower moments, and it really builds onto the song with a more ominous feeling at times, bringing in more of a Dissection feel with it at times, but really drives the song home with some heavy melodic riffs and plenty of well transitioned changes in the music. However, for some, there may be too many shifts in the tempo of the music throughout this song, so in the long run it becomes somewhat iffy and more dependant on the listener’s tastes then anything else. Unfortunately, though, much of the album does seem to stay within the intense and emotional standard, but the track “Leeching Life” doesn’t feel as strong, and comes off more as a filler track then anything due to it coming off a little more generic then the rest of this outstanding release.
Counting Our Scars is the album that really should have been the third Desultory release in the first place. The album captures the band’s ability to create powerful, energetic, and emotional songs through atmosphere and performance perfectly, and will quickly become an album that fans of the style will embrace warmly with fond memories of the first two albums. Sure, not all the tracks will be enjoyed by everyone, such as “Dead Ends” being a hit or miss for some listeners, and “Leeching Life” coming off a bit trivial, but overall the album is a solid listen from start to finish and, while it doesn’t quite make up for the last of the three prior releases, or the nearly fifteen year long wait for another solid Desultory release, it does provide enough kick ass material that it will be an album you return to again and again.
01. In a Cage – 5:38
02. Counting Our Scars – 4:17
03. Ready to Bleed – 4:08
04. This Broken Halo – 4:49
05. The Moment is Gone – 5:51
06. Uneven Numbers – 3:30
07. Dead Endsx= – 4:57
08. Leeching Life – 4:27
09. A Crippling Heritage – 3:58
|Overall Score: 9/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Pulverised Records via Earsplit PR.