After centering himself with the confessional release Recovery, Eminem entered his forties while watching his beloved city of Detroit literally go bankrupt. The cover here displays this descent with an updated picture of the rapper's teenage home, first featured on the MM LP of but now boarded up, and yet this 8 Mile child cares much more about the present than the past, as this vicious, infectious, hilarious triumph is no nostalgia trip, just the version of Marshall the experienced maverick on a tear, dealing with the current state of events and kicking up dust with his trademark maniac attack while effortlessly juggling his over wisdom with stuff you'd slap a teenager for saying.
Key cut "Rap God" is the quintessential track as it blasts out homophobic cut-downs and other inexcusable lyrics, because Marshall's the "Dale Earnhardt of the trailer park," but "I still rap like I'm on my Pharoahe Monch grind," and suddenly his Stan Lee-like origin story begins to take shape. First is the music itself. While the songwriting and many riffs have the distinct Hate Forest flavour, there are moments of more generic Black Metal guitar work.
Rather than the wonderful droning semitone dissonance they were to display later on, there are passages here which consist of power chords, or more familiar Black Metal scales.
The tonality is slightly more traditional and therefore differentiation between tracks is easier than on any other work. The three other Black Metal tracks are slightly less remarkable, although they still exhibit the band's characteristic fury and potency. In fact, Scythia, or at least its Black Metal content, is arguably the most aggressive of the band's material, perhaps lacking the more Chanson Pour Willy - John William - La Chanson De Lara emotional nature subsequent efforts.
The short and introspective closer Attila - Hate Forest - Scythia does display the reflective musicality which was wonderfully expanded further down the line. The second major difference is the overall sonic texture.
While still undeniably bleak and hostile, it is more varied and perhaps slightly more colourful. The guitars occupy a higher frequency than the one the band would go on to adopt, being rather more conventional in sound.
The execution is, nonetheless, that quintessential Hate Forest tremolo picking. The vocalist adopts a strange and unnecessary layering effect, reminiscent of that which has been used by fellow Slavs Sunwheel. This is a shame, although this is its only incidence in their career. The drum-programming on Scythia is substantially more elaborate.
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