This cover reminds me a lot of the minimalistic, somewhat iconoclastic and nihilistic vibes that the extraordinary Beläten gives me. It seems like the scenery on the cover is built up by the Moon on a stable platform, trying to hide the fact that it’s only a part of the back drop. The asymmetric feeling of it makes me question the intentions, almost as if they’d want you to be confused. I think the asymmetric picture-language in clinch with the back-drop makes me think they’re also trying to hide something with it. It seems like it’s not one of your regular releases, it’s not the conventional genre-licking and inside the box kind of thing that you see pumping through the other veins. No, this could very much be something as abnormal as a thought outside the box.
Also, the black little “freckles” could be considered to be something so wild as “white noise”, which is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. This would add up to the mysterious vibe and unusual connections, since I wouldn’t imagine a cover like this having anything to do with the genre they’re bound to. Maybe they’re not bound to it after all? Oh, what heresy! The skulls, to me, resembles death. A kind of lurking feeling of it, but a feeling of not being afraid. A natural death of natural causes, to make a peaceful depart from mother Earth. But then again, considering the remainder of the cover, it seems to me like they’ve got a double-edged message wanting to come across. However, I’m not certain of what message they want to portray with it, but I’m pretty certain it includes a multitude of words and meanings. Symbolically and aesthetically, this cover gives me the creeps, but at the same time includes a fascination of it.
A-Side: Void Lodge (4:48)
Let’s get our hopes up. Time for the first song, which is on the A-side of it, titled: Void Lodge. At first it seems like this would be any regular psychedelic rock from the late 60’s and early 70’s, but no, it’s not. There’s something else blended within the mix, that I can’t really grasp on my own. All that I know, is that they do it very well. The intro is one of the best things I’ve heard for a while, even though it might not be grandiose or very psychedelic at heart, it combines a sound-quenching minimalistic approach to the past, but drags me into modernity with every hit of the drum and riff. It may sound very basic when you hear it, but when the baseline comes into the picture, the playfulness of the sound-scape get another scrape on its knees. Favoring the more distorted and outdrawn riffs clashing into the picturesque, but somewhat concrete sound-scape.
Also, the lyrics fit very well, giving this piece a greater meaning. Existentialism would be a great word to plaster on this one, but it’s more complex than that. It’s a song from the heart and minds of a go-with-the-flow pair of guys, from traveling wide and far – compromising it into a nomadic landscape. This would be a big hint, because when you wouldn’t even know of it, they strike again and the sound-scape very much changes its mood even though some of the riffing and drumming is constant. I believe I got a head-start thanks to the cover, because I believe this one song sends a multitude of messages to me. Some of them, I wouldn’t even comprehend, because they’re so internalized into the sound that it would be a dead giveaway if you could analyze it directly. Even though it could perfectly well pass through as your regular run-at-the-mill psychedelia, it incorporates elements that wouldn’t even mix together if they weren’t in the hand of The Scrags. They’ve got something special going on. Like a chameleon, shape-shifting into whatever mood they’re in, throughout the song. Good start.
B-Side: Cold Wind (4:43)
Did you recognize what I said earlier? Good, because you’ll need it here too. Time for the second song, which is on the B-side, titled: Cold Wind. This could very well be a continuation of the first song in some sort of way, but this one compromises the more standard sounding psychedelia and other elements involved. But when we’re at it, this one doesn’t feel the least bit dated more than the obvious influence from the elder days. I think this song also display various strengths, it’s more of a pushy one and more of an obviousness. Like the brawler you’d put in the back, watching every move, keeping an eye out for the security of the main adversary. Let’s put it this way: this would be the uncompromising and individualistic motorbike-rider, like that scene from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, with the famous quote: “We can’t stop here. This is bat country“. Exchange the automobile for a Harley Davidson, put the intimidating biker on it, re-do the scene and voilá, you’ve got Cold Wind!
It’s both an anthem kind of song that you’d put on when riding your bike, but you’d also stop it after filling up the gas, changing this song for the first one. This is by no means any withstanding critique, it’s just a casual observati0n. It’s all good that they put this one as the B-side, these guys made a sound adjustment while adhering to their good judgement. I’d love to hear this song live though, I think it flows better into that category, because I have a hard time concentrating – by wanting to get myself a drivers-license, a car, go to America and wreak havoc in the desert. By the way, this would be a great song to play in the middle of the desert, just sayin’. It also reminds me of how they’ve incorporated some less visible elements in this song too, the outdrawn craziness of the metallic sludge sound. Which also serves as a major component in one way or another, but I would consider this to be on the experimental edge of hard rock psychedelia. Good one, boys.
This is actually some of the better stuff I’ve heard in that category in a long time. I don’t usually dig this sort of thing, but now I do, thanks to The Scrags. Looking forward to the release and I wish you all the best.
Final judgement of doom: 4/5
You can pre-order it over here: http://www.svartrecords.com/shoppe/1224-the-scrags-void-lodge-7.html