Trophy Scars - Goodnight Alchemy (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Trophy Scars

Goodnight Alchemy (2005)

The Death Scene

Trophy Scars first offering of new material in a year and a half comes in the form of Goodnight Alchemy, a second consecutive EP that, regardless of its album type, runs to the shorter end of a half-hour. The band's screamy, progressive post-hardcore may end up receiving a file-in with any of their peers, but Trophy Scars' version is entirely more intense and about a thousand times more creative.

While it's clear the band has grown a bit since 2004's Hospital Music For The Aesthetics Of Language in that they strive for even more ambitious territory with swiftly-executed loud/soft dynamics, tempos, and time signature changes, there's still a lot that the two albums share in common. They still seem to be walking some rather refreshing path halfway between Thursday and the Blood Brothers. There's occasional use of keyboard set to piano that never comes off as overdramatic or ironic, sometimes artfully detached and otherwise smartly integrated. Vocalist Jerry Jones can still mutter like a Conor Oberst clone when he wants to, and that's only at select points, like for one line in "Traps And Tricks And Such" and a three-second narrative tale closing "Cats As A Measurement Of Time."

While Trophy Scars have always had a pretty vicious penchant for raunchy lyrics, "Traps And Tricks And Such" is a bit excessive at one point, with a corny segue involving a girl continuously moaning for around 10 seconds. Following it, though, is an intense, building exchange of guitar and piano interplay that gradually finishes the song with a little girl half-singing/talking some lines in the breakdown; needless to say, it makes up for it quite well.

The middle portion isn't quite as strong as its preceding tracks, but there's still some interesting compositions seeping through; "Cats As A Measurement Of Time" relies on a left-speaker separated riff for most of its running time in the beginning, and letting another, more distorted one join it on the right side after a pummeling interlude of chaotic drum-work and guitars. "Don't Fuss Over Spiders Thrown" finds the band creepily muttering/growling over a bouncing octave for a fair portion of its running time.

A new tactic of the band is to include much more atmospheric guitars that really fill up the sound well. "Lesson 3" contains plenty of this, and it adds a lot to the song, creating a further dramatic landscape of sounds with quickly building and falling climaxes.

Goodnight Alchemy is another great example of just how much life really can be breathed into a dying subgenre. It may not be quite as powerful as its immediate ancestor, but it shows the band isn't conforming to any mold to appeal to a wider collective of potential listeners, instead delving even further into some wholly more challenging grounds that they are apparently very capable of treading.

Jerry's The Name, Sociology's The Game

Cats As A Measurement Of Time