3 out of 5
Label: Salt of the Earth
Produced by: Scissorfight (?)
This is fine. It’ll do, as long as all you want from your Scissorfight is lyrics about fuckin’ and fightin’, kick drums, and a meaty bass outlining Jay Fortin’s hard rock riffage. And I won’t be able to put up the most eloquent argument that the former Ironlung-fronted version of the band was anything more than that, but… they were.
When I first heard Mantrapping – my introduction to Scissorfight – I chuckled at its overt-testosterone fueled vibe, but then also reveled in how goddamn catchy and good and melodic it was, while also being heavy as all get out. And there’s something in that: that even at its most brutal, the previous iteration of ‘Fight had some pop mixed in there, and that for as growly and sweary and beer-soaked as Ironlung could be, I could also laugh at the attitude that was being put forth.
New singer Doug Aubin does the job of sounding fairly identical to Ironlung – whether purposefully or not – but there is some nuance missing: Aubin primarily just has the one mood of sounding aggressive, just as the band now seemingly operates on one plane of country-flecked hard rock. I’m no longer chuckling and headbanging, rather just headbanging. Because the songs and riffs are definitely solid; Fortin’s feeling for an instant groove is still in place, and there are some notable Scissorfight-isms all over this album. A couple of tracks venture in to the forceful proving ground of the Aubin-era’s first release, Chaos County, but otherwise it’s pitched at an acceptable level of masculine boasts and country-fied living. Rick Orcutt does the kick drum thing. And I’d even say there are a couple instances of the group maybe taking steps toward a post-Ironlung identity – Coagulus being the best example of this, not so leashed to the familiar, however, The Battle Of (Mudhole Mountain)’s attempts at something quieter fall pretty flat.
So they sound like Scissorfight, for sure, and it rocks and is performed and sung with skill, but it’s still registering as sort of a cover band, lacking in the cleverness and relative experimentation the band used to so confidently and consistently employ.