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On “Servile Flatterer” Milwaukee-based dark hardcore/grind trio Scathed sing of a country divided and manipulated. “Believe the rhetoric, hang on every word, manipulated control, hooked from the start, as the country is torn apart.” It’s a fast punk number awash in concrete and industrial echo, and full of relevant pleas. If someone you know is a Trump supporter, do you even still talk to that person? And vice versa. This is country broke in half -- and purposely so. Scathed is concerned and fucking pissed.

The band sings about a plethora of urgent ideas and catastrophes on their self-released debut, Already Dead: a record with real swagger, and the heart to match it. On “Sleight of Hand,” media, materialism and greenwashing are the subjects: “sleight of hand -- misdirection, tricking us to obey, blind like fools buying ourselves into slavery.” The objects that we pursue, have a way of monopolizing our mindscape. The precious bits of life we’re permitted are battled for by immaterial substances. The band begs the question: “do you own our possessions or do they own you?”

The grind is grimy on Already Dead, the shiny-dirt melodies anthemic, and the playing overall, very much garage and basement-is-heaven, worthy. There are thrashes, doom downs, solos, and a feeling you get like when you first wanted to make music. You know that combo of kinetic free-noise and Black Flag directness. The type of stuff that you can pop into your tape deck and hit the back roads for spliffs and long cruises: pondering the mystical depths. Ready for the lights and urbanism.

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For Scathed though, the reality of urbanism is death. Modernism and industrialism is a lie: a corrupt sham that has tortured and raped this Earth and the majority of its people. Already Dead has the drive and purpose worthy of this crucial distinction. It’s a call to arms and a great punk rock experience. It’s a big Fuck You to the Koch Brothers, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. It is made for the proletariat, less than proletariat and the working class. It’s a record to remind you that everyone has a voice. Because we must rage against this monster, and create art in the face of ultimate death. Scathed do so by exploring the landscape this ideology has shaped: it’s a mess out there. We may all be “already dead,” but we shouldn’t go down without a fight.

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Follow Scathed on Bandcamp.

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