Atlanta’s ‘68, the latest project of noted mathcore musician Josh Scogin (Norma Jean, The Chariot), followed the same noisy, frenetic direction as Scogin’s previous work on 2014’s ‘In Humor and Sadness’. The follow-up, ‘Two Parts Viper’, though, manages to play with that sound while still retaining the bite and aggression of his earlier material.
There’s a thick guitar tone present throughout ‘Two Parts Viper’ that means the music always sounds heavy, even when there are more subtle or melodic musical elements (‘Without Any Words’) or southern rock-inspired riffs and swagger (‘Whether Terrified or Unafraid’ and ‘This Life Is Old, New, Borrowed and Blue’).
Elsewhere, the exceedingly grating ‘Life Has Its Own Design’ veers into industrial territory; and ‘No Apologies’, despite a lacklustre first half, incorporates spoken word elements that work well with a conservative use of instrumentation. Scogin opts for a melodic vocal approach on ‘The Workers Are Few’, which is combined with a dark, eerie atmosphere, as well as some psychedelic-sounding keys to great effect.
‘Death Is A Lottery’ stands out as the most accomplished track on ‘Two Parts Viper’, combining elements of noisiness and southern swagger with a soaring chorus to some aplomb. It’s not as bizarre or experimental as some other tracks on ‘Two Parts Viper,’ but comes together well as a whole, complete package.
‘What More Can I Say’ is a bombastic closer with a jarring combination of pseudo-symphonic elements, trembling vocals and looped guitar that still manages to work. It ends very suddenly too, suggesting that ‘What More Can I Say’ was written as an intentionally strange song. If this is the case, it’s been pulled off spectacularly.
‘Two Parts Viper’ has a lot to take in – it’s a very experimental, mixed bag of an album, especially considering ‘In Humor and Sadness’ could arguably be considered largely similar to The Chariot. However, considering how much the album attempts, it pulls off the experiments pretty well.
‘Two Parts Viper’ by ’68 is released on 2nd June on Cooking Vinyl.
Words by Alan Cunningham (@funeral_polis)