REVIEW: Trophy Scars – Never Born, Never Dead

Trophy Scars - Never Born official cover

Artist: Trophy Scars
Album: Never Born, Never Dead
Genre: Blues/Post Hardcore
Label: Independent

Writing reviews is a painful occupation, I am entrusted by the general public to tell them, in a relatively limited number of words, whether an album is worth their time, or not; a proverbial gatekeeper of music. Of course, I’m exaggerating a bit, I’m not really that important, but the basic concept still applies. After a rather healthy barrage of sub-par albums though, the whole process starts to suck the very soul out of me. I really don’t enjoy taking an album; something a band spent tireless days and nights working on, pouring their heart and souls into, and more or less telling them, and their potential fans that they didn’t really do a very good job. The problem with all musicians is that they’re chasing perfection in an art form where achieving perfection is impossible, and unfortunately, most are going to fall way short of the mark. It’s not necessarily their fault, it’s just something that happens, the pursuit of perfection isn’t easy. And to make matters worse, I’ve been on the other end of things, I’ve been the guy tracking drums for 12 hours with only a cigarette break or two, or the guy spending a month on pre-production, it’s all very tiresome stuff. And when I get an album, the final product of such toil, and it turns out to be ultimately disappointing, I really don’t want to say it’s terrible and not worth listening to, the band worked very hard on it, but at the same time, it’s my journalistic duty to convey the truth, and deliver the verdict on what I really think about the band’s music. Which is why I love getting an album in my inbox that I know is going to be good, that I know I’m not going to have to tear apart because, for whatever reason, they have proved themselves time and time again with consistently solid releases, to the point where I just know the next one is going to be just as solid. And Trophy Scars has plenty of proof that they’re a good and consistent band, after nearly a decade, and several various releases, from full lengths, to splits, they’ve done it all, and made quite an impact with each release. And so I really wasn’t at all concerned about their new EP, Never Born, Never Dead, Trophy Scars has been in it for years, and that sort of seniority and experience has to count for something.

Trophy Scars have always had a pretty underground following. They never broke into the mainstream, but their fans are very dedicated to the band. This can mostly be attributed to their very unique sound, it’s a very gritty, experimental blues, that’s catered towards the post-hardcore crowd, oddly enough. So naturally, it won’t resonate with everyone, and will be met with some resistance. But those that get it, love it. Never Born, Never Dead as a whole is a long down tempo, swinging blues trip, set under a filthy voice that is so perfectly out of place, it comes together brilliantly. The two longest tracks on the album, “Snake Oil” and “Never Dead” are both excellent examples of what Trophy Scars is capable of; extremely captivating vocals, coupled with a blues rhythm with just the right amount of swing in the tempo, and the occasional guitar or keyboard solo, to add a bit more depth. The bonus track, “August, 1980”, while technically just a revamped version of a song off their 2009 split with The Saddest Landscape, is quite good as well. After awhile, the slow-paced blues rhythms become slightly tedious, but luckily this is only an EP, if it had been a full length of the same formula, it probably would have gotten tiring before the end of the album, but since Never Born, Never Dead is relatively shorter, it’s only a slight blemish on an otherwise remarkable album.

By now, Trophy Scars have figured out how to write an album and due to their exceptionally high level of experience in the matter, they have managed to write another album that I not only enjoy, but thankfully, didn’t have to tear apart. And I’m quite grateful for that. Of course, post-hardcore-experimental-psychedelic-blues isn’t going to appeal to everybody, but those that do understand the appeal of such a thing, are in for another excellent offering from Trophy Scars.

Score: 8/10
Reviewed by: Mike Hogan

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Guest

    half of your review is completely irrelevant to the album itself.