Genre: groove/thrash metal
"Scourge" is the last album from underrated British thrash metal band, and with its focus on groove and heaviness it is stylistically a far cry from their first albums "Shattered Existence" and "Whose Advantage" which are more technical thrash metal records. However, one must remember that between these is "Kin", where Xentrix took the tempo down a knot or two, so, "Scourge" is very much a natural step in Xentrix' musical evolution. It also very much reflects a band struggling to find a new musical identity in a time when metal was not in, and - ironically - it also reflects the general evolutionary curve that thrash metal took in the wake of Pantera's success with groove metal and the onslaught of alternative metal.
"Scourge" is one of the better attempts by a thrash band at making more groovy metal because, after all, they do not abandon their thrash metal roots altogether as evidenced by riffage in tracks like "Incite" and "Strength of Persuasion" as wel as "Never Be" and "The Hand that Feeds Itself" (my favorites of the album). I also like Xentrix' approach to heavy and groovy metal on this album. Rather than trying to just copy Pantera (although there are a lot of Pantera-rip-off-ish things on this album), Xentrix try to add their own touch and blend in alternative metal and classic metal elements in with the groove, which can be heard in a track like "Caught You Living" which contains groove, technical riffage and rap... all in one song.
The major weakness of the album is that its energy quickly wanes away and gives the impression of limping music which should have been played faster (and this is a problem that many of the thrash-cum-groove metal bands of the late 90s had). In other words, this is another one of those album which are best served a couple of tracks at the time, because the individual tracks are pretty good.
The production is crisp and clean, and the bass drums have that characteristic 90s click sound. I think that this rather polished production is fine, because it allows you to pick out all the details, which is something I appreciate. Moreover, the music on this album does not really have the raw energy to carry a raw production.
So, not a bad album at all, and one of the better thrash-cum-groove metal albums. But "Scourge" does not measure up to the quality of Xentrix' previous releases. It is also historically interesting in that it very much reflects the state of flux that metal music found itself in in the mid 90s.