Album Review: The Scaramanga Six – “Phantom Head”
Say hello once again then to the Eureka Machines’ more macabre cousins. For those who haven’t encountered them before, the histories of the Scaramanga Six and Chris Catalyst’s group of Pure Rawk favourites are pretty heavily entwined – not only did Scaramangas mainman Steve Morricone play bass for the Eurekas in their early days but Catalyst has also served time with the Scaramangas a few years before he formed the his current band.
Anyway, that’s the history lesson over – the main thing that you should know is that while there’s definitely plenty of stylistic similarities between the two bands, the Scaramanga Six are a much darker prospect than their brethren. While the Eurekas’ songs are generally stuffed full of winsome harmonies and powerful choruses, the Scaramangas deal in brooding experimentation and their albums definitely don’t fall under the category of being easy listening. Think bands like Magazine and Wire or even Bowie’s Berlin output with a fixation on death, murder and dystopia and you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
So be warned – if you’re looking for an immediate album that’ll hook you straight in then “Phantom Head” very much ain’t it. Instead, this is one that you should be prepared to give repeated listens to in order to appreciate it. And you’ll be glad you did because, quite frankly, the Scaramangas are a bit of a gem of a band and once their dark visions of the world sink their claws into you, they’re difficult to shake off. The dark disturbing visions of a nightmare future on “We Are The Blind” and the twisted revenge stories of “The Spider” and “I Am The Rain” are the mark of a band well versed in songwriting while the paranoid slow-building “Twist The Knife” and “It Was Only A Matter Of Time” draw you in with their whispered urgency. Closer “The Stepford Bands” meanwhile is one that anyone who’s had the misfortune to experience soulless trust funded bands who are only in it for the money rather than any love of what they do will be able to relate to.
Like I say, don’t expect an easy ride from this album but if you’re prepared to be patient with it, there’s some unsettling but brilliant stuff within. Well worth a look.