Evil Scarecrow are serious about not being serious, akin to the GWAR clan in that respect, but in the realm of heavier metal – their music is face-meltingly heavy, but undeniably absurd, and therein lies their genius. This hot-off-the-press fourth album, Chapter IV: Antartarctica, is yet another satirical release, detailing the endeavours of a sandal-clad monk and an ice slug that shoots frozen milk, a mischievous Polterghost, and a heavy metal Hurricanado. Join them on their “deep socio-political” quest, featuring Turnip Kings, an unfortunate duo melded by time-travel, and a cosmic goth moth who loves his gong.
“Red Riding Hood,” “Polterghost” and “Hurricanado” are the three tracks that have been chosen for the video treatment and each of them show a different side to what Evil Scarecrow achieve. Whilst “Red Riding Hood” works as a single for being instantly catchy – especially the smattering of spoken narrative over a keyboard-heavy sound, it lacks the depth of its companions. The former hearkens back to the early days of Evil Scarecrow’s début Crowcifiction, with similar gruff, mainly unintelligible vocals and rapid-fire guitars; whilst the latter deviates from traditional Evil Scarecrow entirely via a more doom-orientated sound, screamed and gargled nonsensical vocals from Dr Rabid Hell, ominous keys, and haunting guitars.
Despite the musical variety, all these videos are amusing in their composition, and all echo the sentiment of showcasing the group’s many low-budget talents. While watching black silhouettes throw shapes on a red background and astronauts doing Gangnam style in “Red Riding Hood” is entertaining, there’s a deeper point emerging in an actual perceived storyline of a girl being haunted by a playful ghost in “Polterghost”, while “Hurricanado” is a classic Evil Scarecrow video all over, featuring the band in all sorts of fun and japes as the camera circles them seemingly in a “Hurricanado”.
Check out the mind-bending video of for the single “Hurricanado” below.
In the middle of the album, though, we see a lull in quality – “Way to Die”, “The Magician” and “Gus, Zag and The Turnip” fail to meet the same standard as the above tracks. Though individual riffs and solos pepper each track – especially solos on the latter two – the vastly simplistic or unintelligible lyrics and some garbled composition make it a struggle to sit through. While having ridiculous lyrics on top of symphonic black-ish metal here is hardly a sidestep from the rest of the album, it’s when the novelty wears off that it becomes clear how ridiculous they are, which disrupts the comedic atmosphere the band are going for.
Thankfully, the group get back to form with final triage of tracks: “Cosmos Moth Goth Gong”, “The Ballad of Brother Pain”, and the title track, which ressurect the guttural, haunting vocals, powerful guitars, and heaps of fun. It may be surprising for a comedy metal band to indulge in a ballad, but “The Ballad of Brother Pain” is a strong track – an epic tale of the story of the guitarist Brother Dimitri Pain condensed into less than three minutes. Meanwhile, “Antartarctica” finally answers the question of the spelling mistake in the album title – spoiler, it is indeed meant to be there – and does so with aplomb, snarling vocals and abrupt, frenzied backing instrumentation. At ten minutes long, it is an epic track of highs and lows from frantic to calm.
Overall, whilst some songs are a hit, Antartarctica is an exceptionally uneven release, with some tracks bordering on unlistenable. However, the record will undoubtedly please current fans and maybe bring some new ones to the foray with the unusual blend of humour and shredding symphonic black metal.
Evil Scarecrow share their own unique take on “Red Riding Hood”.
Chapter IV: Antartarctica Track Listing:
01. Skulls of our Enemies
02. Red Riding Hood
03. Way to Die
04. The Magician
06. Gus, Zag and The Turnip King
08. Cosmos Moth Goth Gong
09. The Ballad of Brother Pain
Run Time: 48:39
Release Date: September 28, 2018
Record Label: Cargo Records