Abaddon magazine

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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Review: Scaffold – Codex Gigas

Label: Satanath Records / NecroVoid Records / Old Shadows Records / Silent Watcher Records

Date: March 31st, 2021

Seems to me like it’s been a couple of forevers ago since I first heard about the new Scaffold album. Being closely connected with the band for years now got me into all the talks, announcements, preparations for it. And finally, the follower to 1994’s “The Other Side of Reality” is here.

Now, Scaffold has been more than active in the meantime. Apart of the break in activity they’ve had, for the past decade the boys have had a number of releases and re-releases that should’ve prepped us all for “Codex Gigas”. Also, they are among the most active live bands in this area. Add to this the countless line-up changes, and you get why it took a long time to finish this album.

Regarding music itself, the new record is the expected continuation of what Scaffold always stood for. Naturally, for a band with such a long career, their road is set and surprises are not likely. Even with the mentioned changes in personnel.

Death metal is the name of the game. Old school type, of course. The roots of the genre are well-respected in every aspect of “Codex Gigas”. Remember back in the day, when just a mere mention of Florida told you all about what’s going to happen when you place the needle on the spinning black plastic? Well, that’s mostly where Scaffold draws their inspiration. Early recordings by Obituary, Morbid Angel, Deicide, with some mid-era Death (mostly in the lead guitar sections).

The quartet does implement a touch of melody to the mix, as well. Just enough to make it a more versatile piece of music, without sliding into overly Swedish sound.

When it comes to other ingredients for “Codex Gigas”, there’s a pinch of thrash metal, ala Testament. It takes a bit more of an attentive listener to spot them, but they’re there. Plus, occasionally Scaffold uses a subtle keyboard background to add to the atmosphere. But those too are background layers that only enhance the listening experience.

But the thing that separates Scaffold are the lyrical themes. They mostly dwell on history. Okay, more precisely, diseases, serial killers and similar topics not for the faint of heart, but still away from any gore, mindless blasphemy or anything else that would associate them to the early death metal heroes. “At the Dawn of Judgement Day” uses lyrics from a very famous Serbian chant, closely connected to the battle of Kosovo in 1389. “The Butcher of Rostov” is a notorious serial killer. “Variola Verae” is an infectious disease that almost created the same effect as this, most recent, virus. And so on and so forth.

“Psychopathic Mind” could have been avoided, as it is a cover of an old, and long disbanded, Serbian act. And it already appeared on previous Scaffold releases. I see no point in pushing it once again, but never mind.

As for Serbian scene, “Codex Gigas” (along with the new Infest album) is the highlight of the death metal year so far. On a more global scale, there might just be a chance for Scaffold, especially since the album is released on a bunch of labels worldwide. The album is one that will warm up those old death metal hearts. Whether it will have a more profound effect on those looking for new ways of expression is a bigger question that only time can answer.