As with their 2019 full-length debut, Scarecrow’s second full-length album sees the Russian quartet deepen their commitment to a distinctly off-the-cuff, kitchen sink Occult Metal. Scarecrow II (Wise Blood Records) sits on the arcane line between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal best demonstrated by groups like Seventies-era Scorpions and Judas Priest. There are menacing riffs and banshee vocals galore indicative of Classic Metal but also experimental eccentricities that play like holdovers from the Psych Rock era.
Thanks to the musicians’ strange sensibilities, this fusion of influences gets a decidedly more cinematic twist compared to their last album. The vocals are the most immediate point of interest and may perhaps be a dealbreaker for some listeners, boasting a shrill character that comes off like Fates Warning’s John Arch doing a Robert Plant impression. In addition, the guitar work is executed with a mix of fluid leads and rockin’ chords that well reflect the teachings of the Denner/Shermann duo and the Schencker brothers by proxy. A mix of keyboards, harmonica, and flute also pops in throughout to give the album some extra color.
The songwriting reflects this variety with an array of oddness across the board. ‘Magic Flower’ is an early standout, playing out like Mercyful Fate covering a warped version of ‘Dazed And Confused’ meets ‘Whole Lotta Love’ complete with its own bluesy shuffle and trippy orgasm segment. From there, ‘The Moors’ stands out for Doomy riffs and fast-paced freakouts that are reinforced by shrill wails and ominous atmosphere. Even the lighter tracks like the Deep Purple-tinged swing on ‘Mushroom Wizard’ and the folky ‘The Golden Times’ come with a rather unnerving flavor.
Overall, Scarecrow II comes strongly recommended to those who would like to hear some Old School Metal with a tripped-out flavor. While the band is very transparent about their Seventies inspirations, it manages to combine them in a unique fashion that is disorienting without losing sight of melody and memorable songwriting. It certainly takes some time to feel out but should sit well with folks into groups like Mirror and White Magician.
Buy the album here: https://scarecrow-official.bandcamp.com/album/scarecrow-ii
8 / 10