The very first time I ever heard Scorpion Child, I was still back in high school, cruising around Myspace band pages, looking for something that could thrill me. In the very first minute of the first song I listened to, I knew that I was hooked. I HAD to see them. Their sound was old school. It was heavy, it was bluesy, it was dynamic, it was dirty, and it was very Texas. And finally, on June 25th, 2013, Scorpion Child released their very first full length LP on metal-legend record label, Nuclear Blast.
Scorpion Child’s long-awaited self-titled LP does not disappoint. It opens up with the track “Kings Highway,” a rumbling dirty Southern rock anthem. The song begins with the very Southern sound of some chirping cicadas. Then, the vocalist’s banshee howl makes its mark through the cascading guitars and heavy bass thumping. Steady yet dance-able drum beats keep the track anchored.
As the album continues on, its obvious that the band’s influences and styles of playing vary greatly. On one end, they rock a slow burning acoustic blues ballad during “Red Blood (The River Flows),” and on the other end of the spectrum, the band marches through “In the Arms of Ecstasy,” a hair-metal-esque track that begins with a wickedly cool drum beat and guitar riff that demand listeners to both head-bang and stomp their boots. You could even throw some Ronnie James Dio-esque devil horns up, if you wanted.
Old Ronnie (rest in peace) is also an obvious influence of the band, who often recall Dio-era Rainbow. The Led Zeppelin influence can be felt too, as can the likes of bands such as Cactus, Pentagram, and Lucifer’s Friend, as well as some less obvious artist influences such as Depeche Mode, Blind Lemon Jefferson, The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and even Marvin Gaye.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is easily “Antioch,” which begins in the fashion of a sincere ballad and then grows into a real rock and roll stadium-style piece. It will no doubt inspire the listener to sing along: “Fight! Keep your head up high/Fight! Keep the dream alive.” Other notable tracks include the band’s first single, “Polygon of Eyes,” which was recently the iTunes’ free single download of the week, “Paradigm” (a great track to introduce a new listener to), and “Salvation Slave,” a dreamy song about love and sex.
Seeing Scorpion Child play live is like being taken back in time. The five boys own their stage. Tight, ripped blue jeans and leather cowboy boots generally adorn each fellow. Chris Cowart plays his guitar solos standing at the edge of the stage so that the audience can reach out and touch him, his long blonde hair flowing around his face. Tom Frank masters the rhythm guitar, jamming out while shaking his ridiculously cool curly afro and sideburns – and is usually seen wearing his favorite American flag denim jacket. Shaun Avants on bass is very long and very lean, and is very active when he plays, rocking out all over the stage yet never missing a beat. In the back (but not forgetten) is a massive drum set pumping out killer drum beats that drive the tempo as well as anchor the band together. Shawn Alvear brings these beats to life, his curly brown locks flying all up and around his face as his arms move at lightening speed. While up in the front, or over to the side, or down in the audience, one can see Aryn Black; his stange antics, wild microphone throwing, boot stomping, and just straight up front-man bravado command the audiences attention…and that’s even before he starts to wail and moan and shake and shiver and shout and scream.
All in all, Scorpion Child’s debut full-lenth is an album harkening back to an older time – a time when albums were recorded on analog, rock stars were the kings and heavy metal was their court, and bands still played real instruments – but they also remain progressive, trying to keep pushing the envelope. And make sure to pick up a copy of their debut album on CD or colored vinyl either at your local record shop or their online store through Nuclear Blast.
For Austin fans, Scorpion Child will be back in town on August 2nd, playing with the likes of bands such as Mastodon and Rob Zombie during Mayhem Festival, taking place at Austin 360 Amphitheater at the Circuit of The Americas. You can get tickets to the festival here. Scorpion Child will be headlining the Sumerian stage. Their live show oozes sex appeal. Go see them.