For the debut of its second full-length album, Knoxville groove metal act Scent of Remains is celebrating in grand fashion. On Sunday, Knoxville’s iconic Sunsphere will host a unique metal experience, emanating the band’s music from roughly 260 feet in the air, an ideal setting to unveil an album titled “Under a Blackened Sky.”
Recorded in a three-month span at The Soundlair, “Under a Blackened Sky” is the first outing by the current Scent of Remains lineup, including its newest recruit, vocalist Michael Yates. The album showcases a matured sound for the band, which describes its style as “Southern death groove” when pushed to do so. Yates, the act’s fourth vocalist, is partly credited for the increased dynamics of the tracks. Covering a range of methods, Yates’ mix of death growls, fry screams, clean melodics and spoken word are impressive even for the uninitiated, earning praise from metal fans and skeptics alike.
“I get a lot of people asking how long it took me to be able to do it,” Yates admits. “Some people ask how they can learn to do it. I don’t know, you just start screaming. That’s what I did one day. I started messing around with it. Eight years later I’ve got calluses all over my vocal chords. I don’t know if people underestimate it, but it was difficult to get here. It took a lot of days in bed with teas and cough drops and my throat in shreds from doing it so much. When I joined the band, my voice took a shot getting used to doing it and doing it well. Now I’m comfortable and used to it so I can work on getting better.”
“Michael brings a full range,” reiterates guitarist Herb Himes. “He brings four different styles. He can do the growls, the cleans, the fry screams and the spoken-word stuff. The dude does it all.
“It’s heavier yet more melodic,” Himes continues in regard to the album. “In a sense, it’s more grown up. We’re a lot more dynamic. We find ourselves in a weird spot. You have the extreme music over here and the radio-friendly stuff over here. We’re somewhere in the middle and appeal to some of both extremes too. It’s a smart ploy, and it can backfire as well, but it’s worked well for us so far.”
Having assembled in 2009, Scent of Remains currently retains only two of its original members (Himes and drummer Paul Shippers). The band’s ambition accounts for the loss of most former members, who could not make the sacrifices associated with touring due to family obligations. Getting new members up to speed has admittedly delayed the band’s progress in the past, but with its roster now intact with some permanence, Scent of Remains looks to hit the ground running following its momentous album release. The group has already unveiled a music video for the single “BTK,” which features the murder of Himes’ wife Kimberly by a serial killer portrayed by Yates. While awaiting extensive summer touring, Scent of Remains will warm up with several local and regional shows in the coming months.
“Before, we were working in new members every six months,” Himes points out. “Now we’ve had a solid lineup for a year and a half or so. ... We’re at the point now that we know who we are and what we want to do, so it’s just a matter of getting out there and making it happen.”
Combining the image of Knoxville’s most recognized landmark with Scent of Remains’ dark, brutal metal sparks the imagination, whether producing Death Star or Deathklok Metalocalypse-like scenarios, but fantasy aside, pulling off this feat could land Scent of Remains in the annals of Knoxville rock history. The Sunsphere has hosted wedding receptions and parties that included music, but likely nothing of this magnitude.
“I actually joked on the radio that we could blow the panes of glass out, and they could fall below and crush people like a Deathklok show, then I apologized to the mayor after that, before they shut the show down,” jests Himes. “That’s not really what we’re up to. It was our drummer’s idea. Paul wanted to check it out because he was working downtown and saw that it was available for parties. The lady he talked to sounded excited, and he wasn’t expecting that. From that point, we just had to get it done.”
Sunday night, Scent of Remains’ Sunsphere party will kick off promptly at 8 p.m. Admission includes a catered BBQ meal and prizes will be given away; also, the venue will allow outside alcohol (BYOB). Advance tickets can be purchased for $10 by contacting the band through its website (www.scentofremains.com) or its Facebook page (www.facebook.com/scentofremains). Tickets will also be available at the door.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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