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Hailing from The Sword's own hometown of Austin, Texas and also featuring a retro sound heavily favoring 70's boogie riffs, Scorpion Child proudly sidestep the battle tested fuzz rock that The Sword have only recently eschewed in their own right, establishing themselves instead as flag bearer for a relatively novel mix of 70's hard rock swing and 80's hair metal pomposity


Album Review: SCORPION CHILD Acid Roulette

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Hailing from The Sword's own hometown of Austin, Texas and also featuring a retro sound heavily favoring 70's boogie riffs, Scorpion Child proudly sidestep the battle tested fuzz rock that The Sword have only recently eschewed in their own right, establishing themselves instead as flag bearer for a relatively novel mix of 70's hard rock swing and 80's hair metal pomposity… The Darkness minus the self-conscious corniness and over-the-top glam excesses, substituting those qualities with a bit of Southern flair and invigorated knack for catchy songwriting.

Aryn Jonathan Black lacks the aiming-for-the-rafters shriek of The Darkness's own Justin Hawkins, but he has a piercing wail of his own that sails suitably above the bombastic aspirations of his band  mates. "My Woman in Black" most purely distills the accessible pleasures of the Scorpion Child sound, its downtempo verses exploding into a shoot-for-the-moon chorus, but the  title track which follows is what separates the band as more than just a disposable pop metal band: an unfussy prog opus longer on narrative songwriting than instrumental virtuosity – think Kansas rather than Yes – this extended suite ambles patiently along at a simmer which occasionally threatens to boil over, but only does for a late organ solo that does Jon Lord and Keith Emerson alike proud.

"Twilight Coven" also proves to be a dominant showcase for AJ Vincent's Purple-esque organ workouts, his colorful chordings adding a stately presence to the earthier tandem riffs of guitarist Christopher Jay Cowart. In fact, there is an impressive degree of chemistry present on Acid Roulette considering the band not only replaced their drummer and bassist since recording their debut album, but also saw guitarist Thomas Frank exit without being replaced, Scorpion Child now existing as a one-guitar unit. Having your entire rhythm section gutted only to come back stronger than ever with a defiant snub of the proverbial "sophomore slump"… that's a notch in the belt that any band would love to put their name to.

Acid Roulette is technically a concept album, its lucky 13 tracks detailing "the story of a doomed love that lands the male protagonist behind bars while his wife lives out an affair with her wealthy lover" – a subject fellow Texan Charlie Robison waxed poetic about much more succinctly on his six-minute noir ballad "Loving County", but whatever – yet the hour-long whole flows more intuitively as a series of potential classic rock singles, the boot-stomping boogie riffs outnumbering the moodier, midpaced cuts by about 9 to 3 (not counting the throwable minute-long interlude "Seance" in either count). By that score, Acid Roulette is a pretty resounding success, with any baby fat that might have existed on their promising debut pared ruthlessly down to the bone. There's nothing particularly revolutionary to be found here, unless you count an unparalleled knack for fusing the best of commercial 70's rock with the pitched up flamboyance of 80's glam metal. It's flat out ridiculous to me to that terrestrial radio continues to prop up past-their-prime former hitmaking machines like Disturbed and Korn but can't find a place for the likes of  Scorpion Child. Their loss, I suppose.

Score: 8.5/10

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