Scarlet - Cult Classic (Cover Artwork)


Cult Classic (2004)


Cult Classic is the kind of record that rewards listeners for sticking it out to the end. Since many music writers base their reviews on the first three or four songs of a record, Scarlet might suffer for this – after all, they do kick off the record with arguably familiar metalcore elements, which might get them accused of biting some style from this band or that. To be fair, Scarlet's sound definitely incorporates things that would appeal to fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan, or maybe Between The Buried and Me. But after a few minutes, Cult Classic reveals a unique spirit – it shows itself to be a moody, passionate record, with lots of characteristics to distinguish Scarlet from their numerous contemporaries.

One such distinction is a clear stoner-rock element. Things get spacy more than a couple of times, especially toward the end of the record. These toned-down interludes seem essential in framing Cult Classic's more 'chug-chug-wee-wee' moments, as well as the dissonant noodling and doodling. Add in a ton of grooves and what you get is a very big, dark, brooding, almost tribal sound, layered with chaotic, coarse textures. Very little of Cult Classic is catchy in terms of traditional pop sensibilities, but it's so damn heavy and almost hypnotic that listeners will nonetheless be drawn to it.

Part of this record's success is its excellent pacing. Scarlet never relies on a clever part for too many measures – not one riff is abused, and yet each idea feels thoroughly explored and allowed to run its course. Even the vocals, which are often monotone, mid-range metal screams, take some surprise twists and turns here and there - though not as often as the rest of the music. The guys in Scarlet seem to have a knack for tasteful arrangements, and Cult Classic is a cohesive, deliberate sculpture that reflects a specific and refined collective vision.

This record is a very smooth listening experience. Scarlet take a few risks and wind up delivering a fairly mature, rich full length that is clearly the best thing they have ever done. And while some might dismiss it as just another derivative offering from just another metalcore band, a few good listens will bring Cult Classic's unique qualities front and center. Being in a heavy band these days is like trying to yell to your friend at the other end of a crowded stadium, but Scarlet are dying to get – and hold - your attention. And they're doing everything possible to do so.