Review of Alone in the Orchard of Souls by Black Scorpio Underground, On the Relic by Black Scorpio Underground, and Rage Traitor by Black Scorpio Underground.
Black Scorpio Underground is the California based noise project of Joe Truck. Truck was a key player in the 1980s New York Goth scene with the band Scarecrow, he is now based in California. He has other many bands including the punk hardcore act Skull and Bullets, Aggrastat and now his main focus is a more No Wave/Experimental project called Puss. He has previously been in many bands such as Brain Eaters, Chop Shop, Hellvis, Confederacy of Horsepower, Mechanique, and Heatgun.
Truck runs several record labels including Black Scorpio Records who released the recent Dark New York compilation which compiles key Goth bands in New York in the 1980s, and he is also an established Tattoo Artist in California.
As a noise project Black Scorpio Underground has been prolifically releasing material since 2006, there have also been split releases with many projects including Aural Resuscitation, Haters, and Werewolf Jerusalem.
The split 12” with Werewolf Jerusalem opens with Black Scorpio Underground’s Alone in the Orchard of Souls. This simmers away in an ominous manner as conversations and speeches sound off in the distance, it abuses silence in the same way as Marco Corbelli’s Atrax Morgue could. Slight blasts of static and further noises that are used to build things considerably only for them to repeatedly fall in and out of ambient murk again. Each time the track rises again it is with an increased sense of intensity and urgency. Alone in the Orchard of Souls is akin to being upset and lost in hell.
Werewolf Jerusalem is one of Richard Ramirez’s many projects, and it has been prolifically releasing since 2001. The lengthy Further Suspects in Rail Killings simmers nastily in parallel to the Black Scorpio Underground track on the other side. Resonating loops of static noise phase through each other continuously whilst background drones are ever present. Metallic scraping coupled with explosions of static crackle build and to shift Further Suspects in Rail Killings through a long series of noise phases.
The record is presented well and pressed on beautiful marbled vinyl. I rate both tracks well here; they are parallel in the levels of intensity they reach. The Black Scorpio Underground track seems shorter and I feel is the slightly stronger track in that it holds your attention better. The Werewolf Jerusalem track is also strong but could have been shortened in length or highlighted with more definite shifts in sound. This serves as another strong release from Husk records. 3½/5
The dirtier ominous low levels of noise are revisited by The Black Scorpio Underground on Rage Traitor, their track on the split 7” with the Vomit Arsonist. This occupies a darker ambient territory than the split with Werewold Jerusalem. It builds up to explosive territory which then fails and drops Rage Traitor into further hellish nightmares.
Andrew Grant’s The Vomit Arsonist project has been releasing since 2004. Here he really operates from quiet low levels with All Is Lost, omnipresent drones are punctuated by whispered vocals. Vomit Arsonist also manages to take things to lower darker levels than the reverse track without even having to raise his voice or the noise levels.
This is an impressive 7” both artists deliver differing nightmares of sound and achieve excellent results. I hadn’t heard anything like what Vomit Arsonist did in All Is Lost and I am keen to hear more. So far The Black Scorpio Underground has shown an impressive ability to deliver good results whilst totally lost in his own personal hell. 4/5
Having reviewed RxAxPxE twice before, the prospect of a split with Black Scorpio Underground is exciting to me. Black Scorpio are particularly choppy with On The Relic, choppy static, feedback and noise are overlaid with incoherent screams. This is an effective change of pace for Black Scorpio Underground into a livelier hell, the fires have been stoked accordingly.
RxAxPxE builds a tribal rhythm through cutting into static distortion as chants go off uninterrupted in the background. His Return uses static as a rhythmic assault weapon and frequently obliterates itself with feedback as if it has half pulled the plug on itself. This is also a livelier RxAxPxE and it suits them, on albums they often build up to things if they are going to be anything near as assaultive as this. When RxAxPxE gets nasty quickly, it does them credit.
Both tracks represent each project in a more aggressive form, this single is a surprise and it gave something different from both acts. Excellent presentation through cover artwork and the vinyl is pressed in a marbled format, topped off with particularly high quality tracks by both artists. 5/5
Sadly Joe Truck chose to end Black Scorpio Underground in 2013, he now concentrates on PUSS, which is an experimental band project. He has a four decade history in many underground bands so I can see the desire to be band based. He also proves to be an impressive noisemaker who can work well in dark abstracted ambient territory. All of the records presented here are good and Black Scorpio Underground stands well against established projects like Werewolf Jerusalem who are at the top of their game. I would like to see how the project stands on a whole album, can it feed off itself as well as it sparks off other projects? I’d also like to have seen where it gets to after a decade or two in existence as so far it seems to achieved a lot. Like the occult vibes in some of these records, I hope my review revives the Black Scorpio Underground.
The Black Scorpio Underground/Werewolf Jerusalem
Split 12” EP, 2012, Husk Records.
- A – The Black Scorpio Underground: Alone in the Orchard of Souls
- B – Werewolf Jerusalem: Further Suspects in Rail Killings
The Black Scorpio Underground/RxAxPxE
Split 7”, 2012, Hate Mail Records.
- A – The Black Scorpio Underground: On the Relic
- B – RxAxPxE: His Return
The Black Scorpio Underground/Vomit Arsonist
Split 7”, 2012, Hate Mail Records.
- A – The Black Scorpio Underground: Rage Traitor
- B – The Vomit Arsonist: All Is Lost