Scenario II is:
Mark van Doren – (Songwriter/Guitars, Synths)
Simone van Straten – (Live Guitars) also Sisters of Suffocation
Bas van den Boom – (Drums/Technician)
Myrthe van Beest – (Female Vocals)
Bas de Kruyff – (Vocals)
Liza Hoek – (Bass)
From Eindgoven, The Netherlands, Scenario II started life under the name of Aura way back in 1991. After a number singles and EPs, the band finally released their official, full-length debut in 2006 entitled (you guessed it) Scendario II; naming it for the polar perspectives of the outcome of an apocalypse: doomsday or new beginning. Soon after the release, songwriter, guitarist and synth player Mark van Doren razed the band and started over with a new band and a new direction. With many band member changes and sound experimentation in the coming years, Scenario II was able to release Uniforms of Death in 2009, the lineup including Mark, Martijn Luppens on bass, Matthieu Boer on drums, Dani Lopez on guitar, Maarten Vloon on keys and Bas de Esch covering vocals. Almost eight years later, the influences of bands like Soilwork, In Flames, Arch Enemy, At the Gates, Dark Tranquility, Moonspell, Muse, Dimension Zero, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis have distilled themselves into something altogether unique and cool, coming together to create A New Dawn, due out on February 17, 2017 with the above members on the Hysteria Music label.
Classifying themselves as Melodic Dark Death/Thrash Metal, Scenario II has evolved into what would be considered a showcase of what a vision, brilliant song writing, great abilities of all involved playing as one, super production and hard work can accomplish. Taking the better part of a year to record, A New Dawn is incredibly complex, but done so by carefully layering instrumentation instead of being dominated by a single instrument. There is not one wasted or showboating note on this album. If it is not musically necessary and/or does not fit with the overall intent of the song/album, it is left out, leaving the listener with the best of everything. A deep musical understanding just oozes from every note from start to finish. Duel guitarists, conflicting duel vocalists, rich bass tone and Bas van den Boom’s drum skills (this guy DESTROYS the kit!) seem to be the perfect recipe for what Mark van Doren set out to accomplish so many years ago. This band has a whole lot to be proud of. Not only is their music entirely theirs but are said to put on one helluva stage show, utilizing elaborate visual effects to increase their already musical intensity and earning them a place alongside Volbeat, Trail of Tears, Anathema, Testament, Mercenary, Orphanage, Moonspell and Dark Tranquility. Once A New Dawn hits the streets, Scenario II will begin extensive touring around the world in support of their new album. This would be one show worth hitting if they land anywhere within driving distance!
As a fitting launch, “The Darkest Hour” winds things up and begins our journey as a symphonic, apocalyptic march that seamlessly transitions to the title track, “A New Dawn”. Heavy and fast with catchy guitar riffs, beautiful female vocals provided by Myrthe van Beest mixed with the guttural growl of Bas de Kruyff drive hard over softer keyboards as the guitars dance ominously, just out of the listener’s reach. Tension and release are traded during the chorus as the vocalists share the stage together. A very musical and appropriate guitar solo round out this track before being introduced to Myrthe’s incredible vocal harmonies in “Supremacy”. Taking a slower pace, her soaring pipes drop just behind Kruyff’s barks to create a very interesting, open sound that floats just in front of your face, almost as an outsider looking in. By song’s end, her vocals completely envelope the listener as we are whisked of into “Awake”. This song lets Boom off of his chain as he drives the drum foundation forward at a blistering pace. Almost as a playful, wicked chant, killer tremolo picked guitar lines and bone crushing bridges keep everything oppressively heavy before being dropped into a pit of angry vipers. Spoken, female lyrics are eventually growled, taking the track to a very sinister place before and abrupt end. “Rupture” begins deceptively soft and slow before dropping, full-force onto your skull. This time around, Myrthe’s vocal harmonies increase the strain, making for a rather sad tone. As the song progresses, dire fury wins out as it devolves into the mystic underworld. OMFG the drums on this one. I hate to keep bringing it up, but this guy is a crazed beast! As the name would suggest, “Rupture” serves as the knock out, killing blow the preceding songs wound up to. In stark contrast, sad and shocked, “The Promised Wasteland” cries out “Why?!?” via lovely, clean guitar before exploding into “Hysteria”. Bruising guitars, bass and drums hit hard as Myrthe’s ethereal vocals float like a blanket of mist over calm waters while Kruyff gets in your face; taking a determined and immovable stance. Her voice ebbs and flows through the chorus just before all sanity is lost as the song stutters to a close. Duel, screaming guitars starts off my favorite song, “Endgame”. Stomping forward like the future Terminator over human skulls, this track has an outrageously heavy chorus and some of the coolest, most musical breakdowns found on any Metal album. For the first time, Myrthe’s vocals are brought fully forward where they fully shine. Love this song! “Disclose” is next. Very fast rhythms are laid under pretty straight forward leads that trade growls for beauty. As the song takes on the timber of blackened Thrash, the growls get higher and more throaty. The female voice cuts through the darkness as all vocals meld together and come to a smooth and calm close. “Nocturnal” builds on guitar work from the background. Once completely forward, a revolving fury of all players drop like a heavy, black curtain. Very interesting timing is used as the track slows and calms. As a kind of lullaby, Myrthe’s soothing tone is accompanied by twin guitar work just above melodic keys, drums and bass. Very unique guitar chord progressions are the driving force behind the final song entitled, “Stand Ablaze”. Keyboard harmonies and drastic changes throughout the song create a very controlled, almost restrained fell before taking off at full gallop in another direction. A fitting end for this band defining album.
After listening to past works, A New Dawn shows a polish and direction that were never quite realized before. Good, but just not as single minded and sorted as this one. The songwriting is outstanding and this collection of seriously good artists seem to be the right fit for one another. Really stellar and solid release. Hope they make it to the states on their upcoming tour!
Tracklist for A New Dawn:
“The Darkest Hour”
“A New Dawn”
“The Promised Wasteland”