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Scapegoat - Album Review: Reality and the Hanging Tree

12 Aug 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Rene Black can often be found out and about on the Auckland scene, either playing in the premier NZ Sabbath tribute band After Forever, or just supporting other bands and enjoying the vibe. We regularly bump into each other at our favourite dive, Ding Dong Lounge, but whereas that is a relatively new place for me, Rene has been on the circuit for years as he was also drummer and founding member of both His Masters Voice and Cripple Mr. Onion (I really wish I had seen this band, as I remember watching a video of theirs years ago and being blown away). Rene has serious metal credentials in different genres, but anyone expecting the same bombast will be very surprised indeed.

 A while ago I reviewed the single The Dead of the Night, and I said how it was hugely atmospheric, and that it was as if Alabama 3 and Black Sabbath had combined to create an acoustic deathly gothic doom-laden number. The strange beauty of Alabama 3 is even more to the fore when one listens to the whole album as we get clips taken from films, sound effects, and one never knows where we are going to be taken, except it is a journey we all need to travel. In these days where music is often plastic and regurgitated so it all sounds the same, it is rare to come across something which is unique and being created by someone who felt compelled to produce something which is far removed from any commercial considerations. This is nothing like the music he plays in his bands, yet there is a depth and passion within which is magical. This is all about the space, and in many ways, it feels more like a collage than a single musical entity as it is the bits and pieces and different approaches which makes this what it is.

There is no rush, no desire to work to any formula apart from what Rene has in his head, as he takes us into the dark and twisted gnarly forest of his mind, yet instead of being frightened we feel welcome and safe. It is dark, fragile yet with an inner strength, and so far removed from the plasticity throwaway nature of modern pop as to be from a different planet. Take She’s a Witch for example, the main musical section of the song contains only a basic drum pattern, slow piano chords and vocals, yet there is something haunting about this, emphasised by Psycho strings and a film clip at the beginning. Grinning In Your Face is convict-style blues which could have been recorded 100 years ago, with passionate lead vocals, chains and so much pain.

Rene is also a well-known tattooist, and he has taken his love of imagery and captured it in an audio form. He describes this as “Dark, experimental soundscape of insanity. Loss, death, and re-birth,” and he has made this available free of charge through Bandcamp. For him this has never been about any sort of commercial return, but rather this was something he had to do, for which we should all be very grateful indeed as for those who enjoy their music to be somewhat more sedate with a hidden menace will find much in this.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Scapegoat

Rene Black's first solo offering comes under the guise of Scapegoat with an album entitled Reality and The Hanging Tree. Recorded over a two year period alongside friend and producer Nicky Smirk at Ghostlike Studios in East Auckland.

Formally known as the hard hitting drummer and founding member of blues rock legends His Masters Voice and long running prog metal mainstays Cripple Mr. Onion. Rene Black showcases his darkly experimental and often times stripped back musical approach, stepping out of his comfort zone, picking up the guitar for the first time and removing himself from the confinements of any particular genre.

Scapegoat often times resonates a cinematic musical approach, amidst a psychedelic haze of vintage movie samples. Melding dark, melancholic, acoustic songs of love, loss and despair with intelligently sampled atmospheric beats. Blended with a a strange array of eerie instrumentation leading the listener through. a dream-like soundscape of expression over perfection.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Scapegoat

Releases

Reality and The Hanging Tree
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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