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Scars of Grace - From The Ashes

Scars of Grace
From The Ashes
by Jon Conant at 13 October 2017, 8:10 AM

SCARS OF GRACE is an independently driven project by American instrumentalist, Peter Graigs, joined by vocalist Freddy Krumins. “From The Ashes” is their second album; they previously released “The January Man” in 2016, but it seems to be their first album that sees them settled into the classic Heavy Metal groove that drives their sound. Their first effort was much more experimental sounding, laid back, and rock. While the bright and bold vocals of Krumins may be the thing that initially pops out, once you settle in, the strong and chugging guitar work of Graigs really begins to move the music, which speaks to his drive on the project’s artistic direction, as a whole. He also mixed, mastered, created the art for, and as far as I can tell, self released the album. Overall, the album has its flaws, as a newer effort from the smaller scale operation (which I will address after my thoughts on the track list), but it proves to be stout, catchy, and demonstrates the clear potential in SCARS OF GRACE.

“Master Plan” is a classic Heavy Metal song that kicks the album off with an immediate 20-second chugging riff from Graigs, before Krumins joins in on vocals. It’s a strong song; it has a bold/soaring/courageous feel that often accompanies power metal bands, and the tempo is quick enough to match. I would be willing to bet Graigs drew some influence from BLIND GUARDIAN, but keeping in touch with the American Hard Rock sound that holds the song (and frankly the whole album) together.

Dark Voodoo” is a treat of a song and potentially my highlight of the album, definitely one of the stronger numbers on the album in terms of both songwriting and execution. It starts out with such an 80’s Hard Rock/Metal feel, I almost half expected Steve Perry to pop up on vocals, which is, of course, a glowing compliment. Krumins does not let down, he matches that sound with ferocity. For me what elevates this song above the rest of the album, which becomes a bit repetitive in nature, is the way it builds up to a chorus that switches from chugging 80’s Hard Rock to a chorus that is melodic lead guitar driven power metal. The guitar solo feels like several genres meshed together, and it is absolutely thrilling. The variety of styles and the way they are all transitioned together demonstrates that while SCARS OF GRACE may be a smaller project, Graigs is in no way inexperienced. “Dark Voodoo” is a fantastically written song from a writer who has a definite idea of what he wants to do. Of course then, immediately after we go into “Get Wired”, which falls back into the somewhat repetitive classic Heavy Metal sound that dominates the album. It begins to feel like some of the tracks are just built on short and somewhat simple guitar licks, as opposed to conceptual ideas, which is fine, but as SCARS OF GRACE releases more albums, I hope to see the scope of their songwriting grow. To be fair, the song seeks to be the mid-album full tempo pump-you-up-lead-single type song, and it does serve to that effect quite well. “Planet of Chaos” and “From The Ashes” both are more of the same. Well written but repetitive Heavy Metal built and strong chugging guitar riffs and licks from Graigs.

Album closer, “When Silence Breaks”, is the other strong point of the album. Entirely instrumental, it clearly shows Graigs ability to manipulate genres and write complex and original music. Synth and piano carrying the beginning of the song is a welcome sound, hearing this song and only this song you would not know this were a classic heavy metal project. By the 2-minute mark the song has evolved into Graigs demonstrating his technical ability, but he does so within the confines of excellent melody and rhythmic riffs, so it’s not just a technical demonstration but also something that has actual emotion as well as skill.

So what’s the “fatal” flaw of the album? Unfortunately, production value. But, this tends to be the case with smaller scale projects. As a self produced album, the mixing does fall a bit flat, there are occasional issues with the audio levels, the vocals can get a bit “tin can” sounding, and due to a smaller amount of instrumental layers used on the album, they don’t always blend together quite. That being said, as bands grow you also see them refine the way they mix & master, and slowly add more and more layers to the music. You see this already on the closing track where the added synth, piano, and guitar lines help blend the song together quite well. The songwriting is already there, and I’m excited to see what SCARS OF GRACE does in the future with a strong foundation to build on.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 6

3 Star Rating

1. Master Plan
2. Dark Voodoo
3. Get Wired
4. Planet of Chaos
5. From The Ashes
6. When Silence Breaks
Peter Graigs - Guitars, Bass, Drums
Freddy Krumins - Vocals
Record Label: Independent


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