Review & Track Premiere: Scissorfight, Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1

Scissorfight Doomus Abruptus Vol 1

[Click play above to stream ‘Where Eagles Drink’ from Scissorfight’s new album, Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1. Album is out Dec. 6 through Salt of the Earth Records with preorders here.]

From some bands, a line like, “Shut up and watch the flame get higher,” might be a pithy social commentary or a statement of humanity’s inaction to avert climate catastrophe. In Scissorfight‘s “Caveman Television,” rest assured, it’s about people who talk too much around a campfire. Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 is the seventh full-length from the just-came-from-the-forest-already-drunk-and-looking-to-fight New Hampshire four-piece, and a landmark for the simple fact of its existence.

It arrives some 13 years after their last album, Jaggernaut, and some 18 after their arguable pinnacle in 2001’s Mantrapping for Sport and Profit (discussed here) — there were several short releases between those two as well, including splits with Cave In and Pelican and three other EPs: Potential New Agent for Unconventional Warfare (2002), Deathchants, Breakdowns and Military Waltzes Vol. 2 (2003) and Victory over Horseshit (2005) — and follows a 2016 revamping of the band that included founding bassist Paul Jarvis and founding guitarist Jay Fortin extending the group’s by-then-legendary fuckall-and-fuck-off attitude to recruiting a new vocalist and drummer to round out the lineup.

Issued through Salt of the Earth Records, the 2016 comeback EP, Chaos County (review here), tested the waters and found them mercifully free of giardia (look it up), and the band’s positive response extended to the live arena as well, with Doug Aubin‘s formidable presence as a frontman and Rick Orcutt‘s work behind the kit helping propel them to Europe as well as through regional shows around New England — their long-established stomping ground.

Particularly after Chaos County, a full-length was an inevitable next step, and Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 (also on Salt of the Earth) brings the AubinFortinJarvis, and Orcutt incarnation of Scissorfight to a new level in reestablishing the band’s approach. It’s got nine tracks and an LP-ready 39-minute run. Its songs are tight in structure and swing like a right arm throwing a suckerpunch, and they’re heavy like, well, like fucking Scissorfight are heavy. There’s no mistaking that sound.

In some ways, it’ll be the next album that tells the tale of their return as a working band rather than one making a comeback, but if I call Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 business as usual for Scissorfight, I only mean it as a compliment. Whether it’s the woodsy sounds starting “Caveman Television” at the outset, or the anthemic “Rock and/or Die” playing off the Granite State motto “Live free or die,” or centerpiece “Where Eagles Drink” entering direct conversation with “Blizzards Buzzards Bastards” and “New Hampshire’s Alright if You Like Fighting” from the aforementioned 2001 album while laying the band’s ethic out in admirably plain language for the chorus: “Born on a mountain/Raised in a cave/Drinkin’ and fightin’/All I crave.”

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Theirs is a battery of downtuned stomp and aggro burl, and they’ve always done it at their own level. Subtly clever and unsubtle in shoving you down a rhythmic flight of stairs, tying itself to the wooded northern Appalachians of their home with New England’s we-get-two-weeks-of-summer high altitude bad attitude, Scissorfight willfully and defiantly retain their core elements on Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1. That is, while the EP proved it could be done, this is the point at which Scissorfight say with no equivocation they are Scissorfight and, true to character, they don’t give a shit if you’re along for it, the ride’s going either way.

The all-out headspin of second cut “Dumpfight” is a raw punk-derived slammer in its first half, and when it breaks at about two minutes in, Aubin warns of the riff that follows, “Oh shit. Here it comes.” Thanks for the heads up. The image of collecting a swollen jaw is inescapable as the salvo that began with “Caveman Television” continues through “Dumpfight” and into “Coagulus” and “Rock and/or Die” as the record heads through a midsection that would be a beer gut were it not still so able to move.

While there’s little loss of momentum as “Coagulus” makes a grower hook of the line, “All in the name of the hunt” and its title in telling tales of bear traps and other foresty threats, “Rock and/or Die” is singularly catchy and outdone only by the subsequent “Where Eagles Drink,” with its made-for-the-stage call and response in the verse — not the only one on the record, but still a standout — though even “Piss in the Wind”‘s chorus is a masterclass in how to craft fare for drunken singalongs.

The back third of Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 — let’s just call it the “ass-end” to keep with the mood of the release — is comprised of three final songs between five and six minutes long. With acoustic twang, “The Battle of (Mudhole Mountain)” leads off this final turn, followed by the fuzz-bass led post-industrial ode to the Merrimack Valley “Lead Venom” and closer “Whatcha Get,” which actually pulls back on some of the immediacy that’s been so prevalent throughout Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 at its outset, but is soon enough given over to the sharpest-edged riff of the album and a chorus that feels especially pointed in remarking “That’s whatcha get for saying ‘never again’.”

And I guess that’s really the core of what the album is all about. From a certain distance, one has to chuckle at the ballsiness in a band releasing their first record in over a decade and including “abrupt” in the name of it, but ballsy is what Scissorfight do and, to one degree or another, have always done, so it’s fitting in that regard if no other. They end with more noise from the woods to leave off with a sense of completion, and while inevitably the conversation around Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 is still the fact that their lineup has changed, that feeling of being complete is no minor consideration, and it extends to the band itself.

Once again in keeping with the spirit of the album and Scissorfight generally, I’ll say it as plain as I can: I was a fan of Scissorfight with Iron Lung up front. Like, a big fan. Those old records are earthshakers and I wouldn’t tell you otherwise. I don’t know what the impact of Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1 will be, how far it will reach or what the overall reception will be, but if you’ve ever been on board with Scissorfight, and you can’t get on board with this, it isn’t their fault.

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One Response to “Review & Track Premiere: Scissorfight, Doomus Abruptus Vol. 1

  1. Strik9 says:

    This band rules. I been rockin their shit since ‘mantrapping’ and they never disappoint. I don’t know how their not playing arenas other than the fact that most of the population are idiots to begin with.

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