When you really enjoy a metal album, there’s usually something you can point to as the reason; either it’s absolutely brutal, or the vocals are particularly noteworthy, or the musicianship is fantastic, or all of the above. When you really don’t enjoy one, things get a little bit tougher, because all of the aforementioned traits of good metal albums can actually hold true on awful ones. Hence, we get things like Scald’s Fluke which, for all of its positive traits, is really a mess.
For one, Pete Dempsey’s one-man-two-styles vocal attack just comes off as silly; he alternates the typical Cookie Monster metal scream style with a manic style that sounds like Mike Patton screaming all over “Cuckoo for Caca”, except more intelligible. Imagine a really pissed-off Gilbert Gottfried and you’re most of the way to what Dempsey’s demonic alter-ego sounds like. Used on one track, it would be purposefully annoying but fairly impressive in its execution. Used on all five of the proper metal tracks on Fluke, and it’s just annoying. Otherwise, everyone’s pretty good with their respective instruments and there’s lots of screaming about Catholic greed, which is fine, but the whole product just never quite gels into something that’ll hold your attention for more than a few minutes.
Then there’s Fluke‘s final track: an atmospheric thing that’s longer than the rest of the songs combined, not to mention bordering on unlistenable both for its choice of abrasive sounds and the boredom it inspires despite those sounds. What you end up with is a mini-album that just misses in almost every way possible.