Full disclosure here, something about Scumpulse piqued my interest enough to pick this one out of the myriad of potential albums to assault my ears with for review, but at the time, I wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe it was that I expected fun, ugly grindcore (which this isn’t)? Maybe it’s that I trust the source that it came from? Or just maybe it’s because the UK is a hotbed of talented, abrasive, creative intent bubbling and broiling just below the surface of everyone’s conscious right now and I didn’t want to miss out on the next thrilling, grimy rendition?
Well, my FOMO has well and truly done me a good ‘un here, cos this is an unexpected doozy.
Following hot on the heels of the rather decent Dawn Ray’d album of last year, and a couple weeks ahead of the impending Conjurer slab of excellence, comes the latest instalment of “the UK underground is fucking on fire”, as Rotten (Gore House) is a barrage of crusty, snotty, melodic, catchy, infectious – like syphilis – nasty, Black(ened) Metal full of fuck-off-and-die hooks, just like mama used to make.
Kicking off with the type of redolent, cascading melodic pattern that laced The Somberlain (No Fashion) to majestic effect, Scumpulse live in a world that is born of Black Metal, yet thrives without succumbing to the negative tropes of a scene and style that can have many drawbacks. ‘Gnawed By Pigs’ is an homage to the best, aggressive, traditional Nineties Black Metal inflections, but this is no retrospective album, instead, there are eight statements of intent streaked by grind, hardcore and punk resolve, and no end of memorable moments. ‘Broken Reflection’ is massive, ‘King of Dogshit’ varies the vocals with harsh bark replaced by shouted bite, while ‘Sand and Dust’ brings the maelstrom; tempo changes, crust and guitar maestrionics, icy riffing that Varg would have been proud of in his heyday, all giving way to an epic solo, that then punks out into a Celtic Frost chromatic groove, before the light-fingered lead spirals away again.
Touching on reference points such as Kvelertak, Skeletonwitch, Wolfbrigade, Dissection and a more palatable Anaal Nathrakh, Scumpulse find a cool, weird sweet spot of being endearing and contagious whilst still feeling feral and unsafe. Rotten is a most impressive first offering that more than deserves inclusion and recognition in swirling cesspool of a burgeoning scene.