Scaramouche : Access Denied
From their name reminding you of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, to kicking off their EP with a classic rock countdown – you’d figure Scaramouche were a ‘classic’ rock band. However, the former Canberra, now Melbourne-based five-piece quickly unstack those preconceptions, and start throwing musical curveballs.
Set Sail begins with punky vigour, its dashing rock tempo soon establishing vocalist Pat Little as a whooping ringmaster in the vein of David Lee Roth or Justin Hawkins of The Darkness, while wailing guitars shower the groove with electrified licks. It eventually barrels towards a breakdown that features that rarest of frills in today’s rock scene: the bass solo; and bassist Grey Milton gives a rather tasty, technically impressive one for the song’s end section.
The title track follows, and it’s where things get really interesting. With a groovy riff you’d call bouncy if it wasn’t so ballsy, it leans into a buzz that’d fit neatly on a stoner-rock compilation. Next is Fitful, its chromatic shifts and upward Ozzy-wailing chorus recalling Black Sabbath, before breaking into a chugging mid-section of further soloing before exiting with a finger-shredding grunge guitar.
Despite those reference points, there’s no fawning recreation of any one particular band or era here, but a strong through-line of rock’s history from the long-haired grooves of Zeppelin and The Doors to the contemporary swagger of Queens Of The Stone Age. There’s even a dash of the the flexibility of Faith No More and the dissonant rhythms of Tool in there also.
What ties it all together is the progressive edge to their writing, they’re never content on any singular bronzed riff – not when six of seven will do. On the evidence of Access Denied, you suspect Scaramouche are itching to stretch their wings beyond the EP format. The longest cut here (Midnight Itch) is a doable five minutes, but you presume they’d happily double that length. With their spiralling energy and high-wire rock theatrics, where they go next will be worth watching.
BY AL NEWSTEAD
Best Track: Access Denied
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