The 70s throwback seems to be in vogue right now, and Texan rock outfit Scorpion Child staked their claim as one of the leaders of the pack with their self titled debut in 2013. Returning with their sophomore effort, Acid Roulette, they have once again delivered a collection of songs that reinvigorates the spirit of one of rock’s most celebrated decades.
For the uninitiated, Scorpion Child’s basic brand of rock n’ roll is tailor made for foot stomping and head bopping. The riffs are thick and groovy, with dual guitar harmonies intermittently woven in throughout the album. Rip-roaring solos, rich in melody, are played with consummate ease, lead guitarist Christopher Cowart showing a keen sense for structure and phrasing. Bassist Alec Padron is impressive throughout, sometimes choosing to follow the guitar riff, at others stepping forward into the limelight with licks of his own (check out that melodic run in the solo of closer “Addictions”). Vocalist Aryn Black gives a wild, charismatic performance, with a penchant for massive vocal hooks and wails that will undoubtedly draw comparisons with Robert Plant. On occasion his voice cracks, usually when going to his higher register, but it generally works in his favour, adding a raw, authentic quality. There are one or two spots where his vocal shortcomings are exposed, most notably on the half ballad “Survives”, with his delivery lacking the assurance the tender musical approach requires. The song is one of the low points of the album, with the band comes across a bit heavy handed in the softer parts, when a more subdued approach would have been more effective. The production doesn’t help in this regard, the brazen, in your face approach robbing any quieter moments of any subtlety.
This album is a bit unusual in the fact that it is back loaded. The first half of the record is a bit of a mixed bag, with some excellent tracks mingling with the more middle of the road material. The mid tempo “She Sings, I Kill” is a lukewarm opener at best, and isn’t the best way to kick things off. “Reaper’s Danse” cranks up the energy with a riff not unlike that found in “Ride the Sky” by Lucifer’s Friend, featuring a huge chorus hook suitable for stadium rock. “My Woman in Black” again steers things into middling territory, an ultimately forgettable song that simmers but never threatens to reach boiling point. The title track is a mid tempo crusher that again exhibits the talents of Cowart and Padron, melodic guitar motifs floating over a chunky bass line, culminating in another catchy vocal line in the refrain. This tit for tat pattern continues until “Moon Tension”, from which point it’s plain sailing ahead as the band ease through the final stretch, closing with the aforementioned “Addictions”, which contains a triumphant chorus that somehow manages to upstage all that preceded it.
Despite the patchy first half, this is still a great record that is sure to appeal to a wide demographic. An impassioned love letter to the most revered of 70s rock acts, even the most staunch traditionalists would be hard pressed not to enjoy this. Well worth your time.
Rating: 4/5 – a riveting revival of the glory days of rock n’ roll.
Highlights: “Acid Roulette”, “Twilight Coven”, “Moon Tension”, “Tower Grove”