Well, this is a first for me - a band reaching out and asking me to review their new music by listening to it on Spotify. I guess that's an OK strategy, although if I really liked the material this would not be acceptable to have to burn up my 3G bandwidth that AT&T robs me for using. Still, I'm in front of the computer most of the time, so why not give this a listen.
For those that don't know, Scalp is a project who's mere mention probably put Andrew McNeice of MelodicRock.com into convulsions! This is an AOR supergroup of sorts - featuring members of acts like W.E.T., Insania, Eclipse, Baltimoore and Sabaton). Unfortunately for Scalp, the amalgamation of a lot of talent doesn't always translate into a great project. SCALP is a pretty sub-standard AOR rocker that suffers from somewhat murky production as well as fairly drab material.
Again, it's not horrible by any means. There's just not a ton of material here that really stands out. A big part of that comes from the production, which is definitely lacking for this genre of music. One of the key elements to this kind of music thriving is the huge, lush production quality that these bands usually showcase. It's just not here. Songs like "Frozen Days" and "Do You Dream" are plagued by simply awful guitar tone and drum sound. "Frozen Days", in particular, is an absolute mess sonically. I have no idea with guitarists Emanuel Hedberg and Tobias Jakobsson were going for on this song, but what they captured with a thin, seemingly filtered tone that is very lacking. There are times in this progressive wannabe song when the entire band seems completely out of sync with each other, and specifically with vocalist Dmitri Keiski. For his part, Keiski is not the most appealing singer. He's got a quality to his voice that is very reminiscent of some early 70s pop singer that I can't quite place, but that's not a good thing. He incorporates a simply horrible vocal effected callout under his voice on "I Just Wish". Not only is the effect bad, but the callback is too loud throughout to where it interferes with the vocal line itself.
Production is a large part of the problem, but the other half of the issues with Scalp come from songs that just aren't very good. Listening through the material, it's amazing that these guys came up with such middle of the road AOR music considering how much more dynamic their real projects are. To listen to songs like "Romes Peace" or the seemingly out of tune "Time For Revolution", you almost can't believe that guys that have done so much better would put their names on this.
PITRIFF RATING - 32/100 - I'm quite sure the theme going into this project was to do something unlike their bigger named projects. They've certainly accomplished that. SCALP is a pretty tough listen plagued with either poor production and dreadfully average songs, or bad decisions about what to do with the sound and direction of the project. Either way, this was a difficult listen.