Trophy Scars – Holy Vacants

I think the fellows from The Dillinger Escape Plan hit the nail on the head when they named their 2010 album Option Paralysis, citing their strongly held and consistently reiterated belief in artistic ambition and adventure as the reason behind the title.

They feel that despite the advent of the internet and the immediate access to entirety of music that it offers, the modern music scene is stuck in imitation of dead styles and is filled by incompetent artists scurrying to follow the wake of any innovation made (quickly quelling any sense of the avant-garde).

So with that in mind, it’s very exciting to see an accessible band come along that is determined to forcefully meld their influences into one without sounding like a cheap substitute. The artist I’m discussing of course is the American Trophy Scars, whose latest album Holy Vacants has been frisbeed into my aural cavity for the past week.

trophy scars

Trophy Scars have dropped their latest epic post-something record Holy Vacants, and boy is it a piece of work. Head to Monotreme Records to grab a copy.

The five lads, who must be sipping the same prodigial water that The Dillinger did (the internet confirms their origins as being adjacent New Jersey towns), weave a heavy rock tent that has Converge’s hardcore slashing at one end, and the INXS-esque crooning loved by publicans Australia wide on the other.

The top of the tent is held up by the uplifting essence of deftly-executed experimentation that lofts similarly-intentioned artists, like Kimbra, Radiohead and Meshuggah, above the throng of modern musical mediocrity. The spaces and metaphorical air in between is filled by competing spasms of dusty recollections that can only be described by hypothetical scenarios (for instance, I wrote in my notes “Tom Waits in a metal band”).

To counter the gruff masculine voices that narrate this record, a piercing guest feminine voice is introduced to parts of the album, adding a further sensory element to be experienced and introspectively interrogated. Unlike many other heavy bands, the differing register of voices aren’t predictable, and this is used to provide a temporary second gear to songs whose bridge one can guess from the first few chords.

This reflects on the excellent production of the album overall, with the drums in particular sounding crisp and never overbearing. Just like the pleasantly surprising and visceral presence of trumpets in DEP’s song Milk Lizard, orchestral instruments support the album’s rock n rolling with the deftness of a KGB assassin.

The album seems to follow a concept of death and nastiness. It contains three songs titled after phobias (and unlike the Somebody songs of Kings of Leon, aren’t titled in a state of unimaginativeness): Crystallophobia, the fear of glass; Hagiophobia, the fear of anything holy; and Nyctophobia, the fear of the dark. It’s hard to come to a judgement when you don’t have a physical copy of the album at hand (despite their quality, this band seems to still be rather underground.

Not even allmusic has reviewed this album!), but I’ve seen on the internet that the album is about killing an angel, so I’ll go with that. Furthermore, reflective of their indie status, the album doesn’t start with the conventional big hitting songs. The album’s middle hump of Archangel, Crystallophobia and Burning Mirror contains the three best tracks for convincing the unbeliever of this bands’ brilliance.

I’m exhausted; it’s hard trying to proselytise music without turning people off with fanboyism. I guess I should just repeat what I heard someone say on Channel V one day: “I like this band, and you should too”.



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