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Review: Scaleless – Shrine of the Serpent

by Miloš Šebalj

Scaleless – Shrine of the Serpent

1.  Behind the Sun
2. Genera
3. Violent Whispers
4. Bells of Awakening
5. Shrine of the Serpent
6. The Wailing Host

Label: Self released
Date: July 22, 2019

Well, I must admit I was pretty sure this album is going to suck. Seriously, I have major issues with one-man bands. I was slightly reassured by the fact this project took a couple of years to completion, but still… So, I pushed the “play” button…

Scaleless comes from Croatia and “Shrine of the Serpent” is the debut album. Calling it an album might just be an exaggeration as it lasts for just 24 minutes but it makes no big difference. Furthermore, the one member of the band did have some help while creating the record. He did leave the technical details such as mix and mastering to the professionals, so the sound is more than appropriate. He needed help with the lyrics too, so he got some. Apparently, he is not afraid to ask for help when he needs it. Luckily, it seems as if he needs no help while crafting his songs.

“Shrine of the Serpent” is a well-conceived record. It is mostly placed in the Melodic Death Metal “folder”, though with influences reaching much further. Dissection plays a major role in the taste of Scaleless’ creator. Some guitar solutions bring forth Death, especially in Chuck’s later period. Dark Tranquility came to my mind more than once, too. Subtle keyboard accents make me think of Emperor, for example. Unusually vast array of influences when it comes to a one-man band, you must agree.

The compositions themselves have been carefully thought-out. Fusing so much into a coherent ‘product’ was certainly a demanding task. Scaleless mostly uses mid tempos and builds up from there, never being satisfied with simple song structures, although 4 tracks do not exceed 3 minutes. Quite an achievement! Technically speaking, the instruments are performed to perfection, which just goes to show the originator of the project has a lot of experience in handling them. Plus, the overall production is done to perfection, thus creating a heavy wall of sound. The visual side of the release was also outsourced and Kristijan Vrdoljak must get some credit for the excellent work he has done.

Now, the only thing I found wrong with “Shrine of the Serpent” is the lack of a catchy and memorable song. They are all captivating in their own way, but they are easily forgotten when the album comes to an end. There are some cool guitar parts, notable rhythms, fine choruses but overall it lacks a ‘hit’. Since this is a debut record it is not a big ‘failure’ (if it even is a failure), but it is something to work on in the future. It just might be the thing to push this project into greatness their mentioned idols have reached. I was also told this band might get a live incarnation soon, with help from some session musicians. I would certainly be interested in witnessing Scaleless’ live performance.

There is big potential presented here! I hope I will not be disappointed with the follow-up to this nice piece of music.

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