Landmine Marathon / Scarecrow - Split (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Landmine Marathon / Scarecrow

Split (2008)

Level Plane

The split album is a thing of pure beauty; it is like a double scoop bowl of frogurt -- if one flavour doesn't tickle your fancy, the other one surely will. If neither is to your liking, that's okay -- they come with your free choice of toppings! Though, the toppings contain sodium benzoate. Thankfully, the flavours of Landmine Marathon and Scarecrow are both fairly delicious and with no frills, in their own somewhat opposing ways.

Landmine Marathon start off the split with a sound that could be described as death metal, but manages to avoid the shortcomings of a generic workout. The most striking asset to the band's sound is lead vocalist Grace Perry's shrill rasp, which is downright creepy and is far more impressive than the usual death growl. Fast-paced riffing dominates most of their side of the album but "Rise with the Tide" does offer some fine guitar moments in the breakdowns, intros and solos. Similarly, while blast beats are sprinkled throughout, drummer Mike Pohlmeier's drum patterns display a refreshing range of stylistic twists. The visual image of Landmine Marathon brings a smile to my face and in turn the band has created some really fun songs on this split.

On the flipside, Scarecrow come with an authentic `80s thrash metal sound that instead of purely relying on aggressive blasts like Landmine Marathon, puts a larger focus on guitar work. What makes their side successful is an ethos of "just enough"; there is just enough melody in the guitar leads and vocals; their solos are just long enough; and each song ends before they have outstayed their welcome. Funnily, Scarecrow isn't the band here that focuses on the macabre in their lyrics; rather, they tackle disillusionment with today's society, most acutely on "Twilight's Last Gleaming": "O'er the the ramparts we watched / as what we fought for was lost / when victory means the same as defeat." Scarecrow shows an unabashed love for the sounds of the past in their craft, which is fine considering a lot of the greats from that time have reached their expiry date.

If Level Plane has something going for it it is how consistently good, if not great, the material they put out is, and you can chalk this one up as part of that growing tradition. If you like the aesthetic properties of death metal but without all the negative connotations, Landmine Marathon's half is a good place to look and solid primer for their material. If you long for thrash of an `80s vintage but are tired of your old Slayer and Megadeth tapes, Scarecrow is where it's at.