Scarcity : The Promise of Rain

Scarcity The Promise of Rain review

There are many words to describe The Promise of Rain that make it sound unbearable; grating, loud, exhausting, laborious, torturous even. None of them refer to how metal it is, like how you could call a death metal album “gnarly” or a grindcore record “punishing.” No, these terms describe Scarcity’s second album on a purely auditory level. The Promise of Rain plays like the New York group is bashing their microphones into their foreheads until they draw blood.  

By starting the record with “In the Basin Of Alkaline Grief,” it’s as if Scarcity don’t want you to hear their music. The guitars screech like strangled dogs and the bass is almost absent, leaving you nothing to latch onto. Comparing it to nails on a chalkboard wouldn’t be entirely incorrect. Four tracks deeper into the LP and “Venom & Cadmium” acts as a glass of water after a night of Jager bombs, even though it’s a repugnant offshoot of melodic black metal. 

You’d almost think Scarcity evolved as a reaction to metal for how vile they are, but bandleader Brendon Randall-Myers does not have a background in metal. He’s been a member of the Glenn Branca Ensemble since 2016 and assumed conducting duties when Branca passed in 2018. The no wave and noise rock figurehead instilled a penchant for brutally loud and dense audio in Randall-Myers, only for those tendencies to mutate with the latter’s long-distance running career. The endurance and mental fortitude necessary to move your body at a formidable pace for miles on end cultivates a certain type of person who wants to challenge their tolerance for pain and punishment. The focus necessary to complete a marathon, the kind that shuts the world off and topples over walls that erect themselves 20 miles into a run, is a definitive part of Randall-Myers’ artistry. It’s a large reason why he connected to metal in the first place

That’s not the only personal revelation that Randall-Myers has embedded into Scarcity. The group’s 2022 debut album Aveilut was an on-the-nose personification of grief and isolation that Randall-Myers composed as a way to cope with losing two close people in a short period of time. His only collaborator was Doug Moore, one of the best metal vocalists at portraying experiences that evade simple artistic expression. He’s captured the frustrations that negative thought loops create on Seputus’ Phantom Indigo and the tolls that modern labor and productivity standards take on us through Pyrrhon’s Abcess Time. He’s also a member of Glorious Depravity and Weeping Sores, two death metal bands—if you couldn’t tell by their names. 

The Promise of Rain marks another growth for Randall-Myers as it’s about being open to relying on others. It’s a forehead-smackingly obvious lesson that we know to be true even though we, through our own traumas and dispositions, don’t always apply it in our lives. Just because it’s on the nose and elementary doesn’t make it any less affective. In fact, Scarcity take it to its most bastard extremes.

They throw Aveilut’s patience out the window to make space for a full band. For The Promise of Rain, the duo recruited Lev Weinstein of Krallice, Dylan DiLella of Pyrrhon, and Tristan Kasten-Krause, a collaborator of Sigur Rós and Steve Reich. Each of the new recruits’ resumes implied how batshit the album would be, though that seemingly wouldn’t be enough, so Scarcity recorded the tracks in only one to two takes. There are some minor synths that prevent The Promise of Rain from sounding exactly like a live album, but besides that, it is a bonfire of a recording. 

The album’s structure is tantamount to its success. Though each track is its own entity, unlike Aveilut, they rely on each other to form the whole. Each third of The Promise of Rain has its own identity, with the first being the most abrasive and experimental, the second hemming closer to sludge metal due to its slower pace and the bass leading the songs, and the final third pulling from various black metal strains. The closing track “The Promise of Rain” is a metropolitan take on symphonic black metal that’s so digestible it’s hard to believe it’s on the same album as “In the Basin of Alkaline Grief.” 

It’s not surprising that Scarcity cover so much ground. That’s what happens when you gather some of the most technical and adventurous extreme musicians in the New York area and put them in a proverbial instant pot. Their presence not only elevates The Promise of Rain over Aveilut from a performance perspective, but they bring the best ideas out of each other. Check the riff that erupts four-and-a-half minutes into “Scorched Vision” between Randall-Myers and DiLella for proof. Or, note the lack of blast beats on “Venom & Cadmium” and the free real estate their absence cultivates. It’s a case of more being less, and after the record’s more intensive first sections, it reveals that Scarcity are a fundamentally solid metal band even if they’re not melting their recording equipment. 

Since The Promise of Rain portrays that, in the group’s own words, “burdens are easier to bear when distributed,” it’s reliant on Scarcity’s cohesiveness. It would fail on a thematic level were the band out of step with one another because their mantra would be incorrect. Of course, it’s clear Scarcity has proved their point. It may not be obvious, but The Promise of Rain is joyful. It actively appreciates all involved members by emulating the ecstasy of a live show. Given that, it doesn’t seem so unbearable after all.

Label: Flenser

Year: 2024

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Scarcity The Promise of Rain review

Scarcity : The Promise of Rain

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