Scour Get Relentless with the "Black" EP

Scour Get Relentless with the "Black" EP

- By Perran Helyes

Vicious on paper and harder in realisation, Scour's trilogy of EPs have given some of metal's most legendary the blackest of paths to pursue. Drummer Adam Jarvis tells Knotfest about completing this opening barrage.

When Scour first arrived in 2015, the project assembled members of some of 21st century extreme metal’s finest bands like Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s John Jarvis and Cattle Decapitation’s Derek Engemann and placed them behind one of metal’s most iconic voices in Philip Anselmo. In a band geared towards Scandinavian-style hellish black metal, the thought of how just authentically relentless or uniquely tailored such an act might be certainly provided food for thought for fans eager to hear what such players might do. This past month, Scour released Black, the finale of an initial trilogy of EPs delivered to answer those questions.

With a line-up now rounded out by Mark Kloeppel (Misery Index) and Adam Jarvis (Misery Index and Pig Destroyer), Black is another 15-minute tornado of a release, but equally the most musically involved and ear-grabbing Scour music to date. With the EP series now complete, Knotfest spoke to Adam about channelling 90's Sweden, reminiscing over Pantera stories, and recruiting Jason Momoa to sing on their black metal release.

Black is the third Scour EP, and they all have a similar runtime and similar design aesthetic. How different or similar does this one feel to you to the Scour material we’ve had thus far?

It’s definitely all in the same vein but the songs on this one are a little more memorable and a little bit more melodic in a way. There are a lot more harmonies going on with the guitars. When it’s ferocious, it’s ferocious but it can lay back a little bit and let the song open up and breathe. We’ve got the guest solos from Erik Rutan (Hate Eternal) and Pat O’Brien (Cannibal Corpse). It’s a good mix of everything in there.

Scour feels like a really spontaneous project in comparison to your other band Pig Destroyer for example, which has a lot more detail crammed into any given moment. This feels very stream of consciousness between these collaborating musicians. How quickly do these songs take shape?

I just finished tracking the newest Misery Index with Erik Rutan, and we were supposed to go down to Louisiana for Phil’s birthday party the following weekend, and Derek just sprung it on me that while we’re down there I should track the drums for the Black EP. I was like 'I’ve only heard one song!' He sent me the rest and literally, some of the songs I had only heard once or twice before recording. I just had to go in and rip it, and some of the takes are like the one and only time I ever played that song. Hit record and see what happens, and onto the next. There’s stuff in there I wouldn’t usually do because I’m not sitting down and rehearsing it for hours on end like I usually do. It was definitely a different approach to what I’m used to and it’s good to keep it fresh.

You’ve all known each other for a long time as musicians, some of you share bands outside of Scour, so is this the kind of project where you’re able to gel as musicians more as time goes on or was it already a pretty instinctive thing coming out of the gate?

Everybody is on their A-game by the time we start jamming with Phil, because of course you don’t wanna look like a jackass going in there not knowing how to play the song. We know well in advance past the recording because then you do get the x amount of time to start to rehearse, so by the time we meet up it is like two or three practices before we’re ready to go play a show.

Where does the love of black metal come from?

I didn’t really get into black metal until way later, I grew up more with thrash, listening to Metallica and Slayer at 8 or 9 and then by 11 or 12 was onto Morbid Angel and crazier stuff. The first time I really listened to anything black metal related was Dimmu Borgir with their album Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, with Nick Barker on drums. That came out in about 2001 and that blew my mind. Just the intro to that record is this whole orchestral piece that flows into the first song that then rips your face off immediately. There’s the clean vocals in it, the interludes using all the samples, and I’d never heard anything like it. From there I got into Old Man’s Child with Galder from Dimmu and Gene Hoglan playing on a record, Nick Barker as well, this dude Reno (Kiilerich) who played on the album Vermin which is probably my favourite one. It was a similar thing with punk that I didn’t appreciate until way later. With black metal it was less of an American thing back then and you didn’t have the means to discover new music the way you do now. If you wanted a CD you had to invest in it, waiting for two weeks for it to come in and then if you didn’t like it you’re pissed off that you just spent money on a CD that sucks.

With that in mind what are the black metal bands that you take most inspiration from for what you do in Scour, and how conscious of an attempt is it to cross over black metal with other genres of extreme music?

It’s definitely conscious, Derek will program drum ideas but then I’ll always have my own take on it, throwing in whatever fills that come to mind. Definitely influences from I’d say Immortal, Emperor, but stuff like Dark Funeral, Marduk and 1349 are references a lot of people seem to catch. The first time I saw Marduk was at Brutal Assault Festival. We’d played earlier in the day so we’re drinking the fine Czech beers at the side of the stage with the drummer from Hate Eternal at the time Jade Simonetto, and when Marduk started playing we were literally in tears laughing at how vicious and relentless it was, blasting for like two minutes straight. I was scared to even talk to the dude after the show, they were so evil.

When you hear the EP and you hear the vocals on this, it’s a voice many of us will have heard very early on in getting into metal but here is being contorted and bent into all these other shapes. For you as another member of this band how is that to witness?

It’s always mind-blowing. Phil is a legend, he’s a metal icon and a very laid-back cool guy to hang out with. He’ll blow your mind on just about any subject matter you wanna talk about. How do you know about Engelbert Humperdinck, y’know? He will do these crazy warm-ups to loosen the vocal cords before we start jamming and he’ll let out these demonic guttural blood-churning growls. You’ll be setting up something and just stop and realise the situation. We’ve played some Pantera songs almost all shows we’ve played and I remember in Hellfest just looking up during the breakdown part of "Strength Beyond Strength", thinking “How many times must I have listened to this song?”

Do you try and go for the particularly extreme, harder-edged Pantera songs like that?

Yeah we’ve done "Strength Beyond Strength" and "Slaughtered", and the last couple of shows that we’ve played we starting adding on the very end of "25 Years".

Coming back to the new EP, you mentioned earlier the guest musicians with Erik Rutan, Pat O’Brien, and most bizarrely Jason Momoa. How did that come about?

I guess the relationship with Jason Momoa came about on the final Slayer tour when Philip H. Anselmo & the Illegals were opening for them. He came out to the very last show at the Forum in Los Angeles and asked if he could watch from the stage. He was there with his kids just on the side of the stage rocking out with his kids, and that’s a pretty bad-ass dad. Obviously he’s a huge Pantera fan and just kept in touch. Derek just said to us “Just so you know, we might be having Jason Momoa do some vocals on the "Black" EP” and it’s like, what? Pretty surreal to be playing on a record that has Aquaman on it, I’ll check that one off the list. I’ve not actually met the dude yet and would really like to just judging from his actions and personality on social media alone, he seems like a genuine dude. Hopefully one day we can get him up on stage to do some kind of surprise appearance. Obviously with Rutan, Misery Index has toured with Hate Eternal quite a few times and he does our recording. He was in Morbid Angel when they toured with Pantera back in the 90s and couldn’t say enough amazing things about how they were treated. He told me this story about sitting backstage and all of a sudden Dimebag appears with a whiskey in his hand, asking “You know the song "Walk"? You’re gonna play it with us tonight.” Erik’s like “I’ve never tried to play this song before” but Dimebag’s all “You’re in Morbid Angel, you can play this shit!” The solo that Pat did was actually recorded a few years ago but we told him it was finally coming out and he was stoked to hear that. That dude’s a shredder, man. We’ve done tours with Cannibal Corpse too and he’d just sit there on the bus with a tiny guitar, watching Mr. Bean or something and talking to people just while shredding like it’s nothing.

All of you in Scour have your primary bands alongside this. What itch does doing this scratch for you that you don’t get with your main band, and what are your goals with a project like Scour?

Definitely would like to get out there and play in front of more people, because we’ve only really done the big festivals. Obviously not doing anything right now but it’d be nice to maybe one day, do a real tour. I guess as far as the technical capabilities of playing Scour, it’s definitely more demanding and relentless than what I’m used to. I’ve been playing drums throughout quarantine but haven’t been playing as much because it’s not been demanded right now for touring. We might have a little something cooking so I had to start practicing some stuff and it’s tough, I’m training like a professional athlete of sorts to just be able to hit the ground running with this stuff. It’s a mental thing and a physical thing and it’s brutal.

With three years between this EP and the previous one, and this being the third in the series of EPs, is that a format that you feel this band is particularly suited to or are there plans to do something more full-length next time around?

The original idea that Derek had for Scour was to do the three EPs with six tracks each so you have the 666 across them, of course. Every single one track five is the ambient track that moves into that last sixth track. Probably an idea had while drunk but we actually did it! We’ve had some other ideas like maybe release some special packaging of the three together, I don’t wanna give too much away, but then I definitely think I can say that the next release will be a full-length. It’s only a natural thing to do at this point, we just signed with Nuclear Blast and part of that contract is a full-length album to be next. I’m stoked about that, I know Derek already has some stuff cooking stirring the cauldron. With this release I think a lot more people are actually finding out about Scour and realising it’s a force to be reckoned with, vicious and relentless but fun stuff.

The Black EP from SCOUR is currently available from Nuclear Blast Records - HERE
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