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A rock ‘n’ roll record should unlock a journey. The music, lyrics, and aura can summon a trip out of the ether. Scorpion Child conjure that kind of trip on their second full-length album, Acid Roulette [Nuclear Blast].
The Austin, TX quartet — Aryn Jonathan Black [vocals], Christopher Jay Cowart [lead guitar], Jon “Charn” Rice [percussion], Alec Caballero Padron [bass], and Aaron John “A.J.” Vincent [heavy keys] — confidently expand the sonic palette established on their 2013 self-titled debut. That first offering bowed at #26 on the BillboardHeatseekers Chart, and #99 on the Hard Music Albums chart. Following its premiere by Eddie Trunk, iTunes named “Polygon of Eyes” its “Single of the Week,” and Scorpion Child earned a nomination for “Best New Band” at the Classic Rock Magazine presented “Classic Rock Awards.” They’d also share the stage with heavy hitters like Clutch and then Monster Truck on the “Lords of the Riff” UK Tour. Everything set the stage to play Acid Roulette.
“We didn’t want to divorce what we had built on the first record,” explains Aryn. “At the same time, we wanted to show we could do a lot of different things. The goal was to create a sound that could be both ethereal and turbulent. It was a journey making it. We all were going through a lot of stuff, but everything fell into place.”
Following a breakout two years, the group amicably parted ways with drummer Shawn Paul Alvear, bassist Shaun Avants, and guitarist Thomas Frank. Scorpion Child welcomed “The Charn,” “Alec,” and “A.J.” and immediately hit the studio in early 2015. Once again, they teamed up with GRAMMY® Award-nominated producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith [Meat Puppets, The Toadies, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead] at The Bubble in Austin, TX. However, they took a different route this time during their three weeks in the studio.
“We did the true heart of the recording live together in a room,” says Aryn. “We didn’t do that on the first record. Tracking live made the album a snapshot of a moment. Since the guys just joined the band, we didn’t have much time to figure each other out or overthink things. We just naturally clicked. It was a do or die situation, but it worked out. Our initial vision became more intense with time and texture.”
That intensity courses through the album’s conceptual narrative. A tale of love, loss, lust, betrayal, and a game called “Acid Roulette,” the record follows the story of a doomed love that lands the male protagonist behind bars to live out an affair with her wealthy lover.
“With extensive touring, you experience so many things,” Aryn goes on. “I had this lucid dream about a guy who gets framed for a murder he perhaps did or didn’t do. He goes to prison for life. In order to mentally escape, he plays ‘Acid Roulette.’ The inmates would take a jar and cut up a sheet of acid and a sheet of paper. They’d mix it all up. Some guys wound up with like five hits of acid, while other people got none. It’s crazy.”
That story comes to life across the record’s twelve songs. The first single “Reaper’s Danse” revs up a guitar and distorted organ assault a la the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and otherworldly howl that could rouse any graveyard from its slumber.
“Lyrically, it’s the dance of the dead,” he explains. “It’s about what we become in the afterlife. It’s this triumph on top of something monolithic. The character is thinking about death, but he has no rope. He still has some will to live.”
“My Woman In Black” tempers a muscular riff with a bluesy cadence that’s wonderfully gloomy as our protagonist muses on the woman that destroyed him. “It’s about the first time he ever saw her,” continues Aryn. “Musically, it’s like an archway for us. We’re leaping deeper into our other influences like dark wave, death rock, nodding to the likes of Bauhaus, Christian Death, The Sisters of Mercy, and The Southern Death Cult, which later turned into (The Cult) where we aquired our band name from!"
Whether it’s the woozy psychedelic soul of the title track, or the haze of delay on the chugging “She Sings I Kill,” Scorpion Child channel the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll with a fresh spell of their own.
“We wanted to blend sounds we haven't heard infused before,” Aryn leaves off. “It’s gritty when it needs to be. There’s a lot to think about in there. I hope people can absorb something personal when they go on this ride.”
Aryn Jonathan Black // Voice
Christopher Jay Cowart // Lead
Jon "Charn" Rice // Percussion
Alec "Mexecutioner" Padron // Bass
Aaron John "AJ" Vincent // Heavy Keys
Scorpion Child - 2013
Acid Roulette - 2016
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