By El Chief

"Rotten" is the name of the album from extreme metal neophytes Scumpulse. But, "Rotten" could not be more wrong. This is metal at its finest. If the UK-based band was more interested in calling things by how they are, then this debut would be entitled "Awesome," or even "There's No Way a New Band can be This Fuckin' Good Right Out of the Gate." Scumpulse just has no business being this good so young in their careers. But the more I listen to "Rotten," the more I think it could give Behemoth's "The Satanist" a run for best metal album in quite some time.

Scumpulse doesn't have time to build their base slowly. The opening track "Albu gu Brath" confirms that by seemingly started mid-verse. From the moment the listener presses play, Scumpulse is off and running. And thank God, they are. Every groove on the track is as fast and sure-footed as a thoroughbred heading down the homestretch at Churchill Downs. The title essentially translates to "Scotland Forever," and I'll gladly pledge allegiance to William Wallace if every Scottish band is even half as good as Scumpulse.

Metal domination in 2018 is not enough of a trophy for the lads. They also want to smash the essence that has come to define and shackle metal for decades: genre labels. From just a spin of "Albu gu Brath," the listener likely thinks Scumpulse plays grindcore, what with the lightning-fast tremolo picking and the vocals alternating between high and low growls. But then the self-titled track kicks in and chaos ensues. Wait, do I have strumming from the rhythm guitarists? Is this actually a black metal album? It could be. However, there's still that insane tremolo action going on. Like Ross Necro likes to scream: Fuck. Scumpulse doesn't give a damn about pigeonholes. And neither should you. 

It's incredible that with "Rotten" Scumpulse is already sprinting up the steep mountain of metal masters. They also have a secret weapon to help get them there: a sublime mix. In the day and age of independent labels cranking out woefully muddled recordings, Andrew Rankine has Scumpulse sounding superb. Rankine gives the instruments enough space so that even plays on low-end equipment, such as an aging budget laptop, yield sterling results. I hereby decree that Rankine needs to spread his secret sauce to every engineer daring to capture a metal band's sound in the twenty-first century.

But enough of that. This February 23rd, do yourself a favor: grab "Rotten" and rip it open. It's not only the best record of the year to date, it's bound to be in the hunt come December too.