Scorn – Vae Solis

30 Reviews in 30 Days: #5

Not doing so well being that today in the 13th of the month, by the clock & calendar on my computer. I should have just posted up review #12, so I’m about a week behind. Maybe I’ll have time during the day to knock out a few. But for now, my late night listening shall be:

Scorn – Vae Solis

Earache, 1992.
Scorn - Vae Solis
Scorn is a side project of Mick Harris aka M. J. Harris of Napalm Death and N. J. Bullen (Nicholas James Bullen) also in the original Napalm Death. Bullen wrote the lyrics, while both of the duet composed the music. Justin Broadrick (Napalm Death) steps in as credited on the liner notes to assist with guitar in the recording.
1. Spasm –
2. Suck and Eat You – Vocals are not the focus, being that they are buried in the mix, in a haunting way. Because of their location in the layers in the wall of sound, you are forced to listen more intently.

3. Hit – Some have called the overall genre of Scorn industrial, some grindcore. It’s a blend. Personally I associate grindcore with shorter, more intense songs. Industrial has more electronic and well – industrial – type of urban sounds, some danceable, some not. “Hit” uses the mix board to waffle the sound within my head, making me a bit swishy, when I have my headphones on. Sonic Youth liked to use this mix technique as well, as many artists produced/mixed by Martin Atkins. Harris and Bullen do their own production on this album.
4. Walls of my Heart – Here begins what I liken to true industrial sound, programmed drums, samples, filtered voice to make it sound like its in a warehouse of pain. Intensity I can get lost in and what I listened to a lot of when I strolled the urban night.
5. Lick Forever Dog – Lyrically, speaks of the master-slave relationship. And while the imagery could be sexual in nature, it could serve as a metaphorical swipe at religion and Christianity given the image on the back of the album. Looping of the music emphasizes the trap of the relationship.
6. Thoughts of Escape – Gong crash rings in the intro as the beat takes a step down for a moment and we enter the discordant, easing back into psychologically familiar guitar riffs and familiar time signatures. “I must swallow it all . . . Neverending thoughts of escape.” Yes! Sums up how I feel living where I do right now. So glad I fished this out of the pile to review. Thanks Mick.
7. Deep In – Eaten Over and Over – The conjuring becomes darker. There is a sample that is so soft that I can’t quite discern, like a distant radio calling out that you want to walk to and figure out what it is, why it pulls you closer. At 8:28, this is the longest track of the album, and is more like a devilish dark, Gorycki-esque symphonic, cathartic movement. In it’s own twisted way, it speaks to me like new age mellows out most others. I close my eyes and just be.
8. On Ice – We pick up the pace and into something more danceable, clublike – if you were in the chainlink fence cage on the top floor of the Exit in Chicago or perhaps even the old Dome Room (oh memories . . . ). My foot taps to the steady beat. My head moves. I have to lift my fingers off this keyboard and move. There is a repetitive sample every other measure of so that I cannot quite pinpoint what it is – taping on pipes of some sort more than likely, but it dig it.
9. Heavy Blood – Sequencing on this track reminds me of a video game, the laser burst gunfire of Galaga perhaps? But besides that, from the last track to this one, we’ve got from the dance floor to sitting on the couch, arms splayed, passing the joint, listening to a church bell toll in the distance.
10. Scum After Death (dub) – Plenty of movie and/or television program samples used in lieu of vocals in this song. Bass guitar takes an evident lead in the composition.
11. Fleshpile (edit) – Overdubs make it sound like there are more than three musicians contained herein. We lean to a bluesy, avant garde jam session feel, with a touch of jazz thrown in. Like some of the stuff I heard in my Wichita days at open mike, jam session nights, especially as the night grew wee. And if this is an “edit”, then how the heck long was the original? The edit is almost too long, in my opinion.
12. Orgy of Holiness – Black metal gothic doom that bespeaks of not what most people think of when they hear the word holiness. Piano notes played below middle C mostly add to the haunt.
13. Still Life – The mood is continued into this last track, and mellows into silence.

For now, there is a full album (tracks 1 through 9) post up on youtube:
If this were meant to be an industrial album, the first two and possibly three tracks detract from the overall album. As such, I can only rate it:
Rating: 4 out of 5 PBR Pints

If you are curious about what exactly the album cover is – I will only say that my guess on the wrong end of a body – the Ask Earache blog provides the answer.
Listening Notes: Same Samsung laptop and earbuds as the last posts. To be honest, I have not owned this CD that long and have probably only listened to it a few times. Some of the tracks, I feel like I have rediscovered a gem. I purchased the CD direct from Earache, I think, as I was filling in holes and they were having a sale via mail order. I wish I would have found this album in the 90’s and it would have gotten a lot more rotation.


About Kirsten Tautfest

Writer. I've done a lot of living in almost 40 years. My first two self-published books in print/Kindle are what I have termed serial soccer fiction. Red Tales is based around a professional soccer team, set in 1998 their inaugural year, and traces the lives of the players, staff, and fans and how they all intertwine and collide for better or for worse.
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