Unscarred-French Thrash on the Rise

Matt Baggins June 5, 2014 10

FAKE DEMOCRACY cover art

My first introduction to Unscarred actually came on a night of disappointment when I was 17. I had been meant to go see them and review their show in the Parisian suburbs, but at the last minute my parents told me it was too dangerous and I wasn’t allowed to go. Nevertheless, before the show I had taken the time to write a small review on my blog of the bands recently released demo entitled Fake Democracy, some of my first thoughts on Unscarred were  “A group who really understand thrash metal and essentially provide a ‘best of’ with their music the future seems bright for these French thrash purveyors.” Asides from a small magazine feature a few months prior, I had been the first person to give Unscarred media coverage, and I was very excited when I found out I would have the opportunity to see them live for the first time in August.

FAKE DEMOCRACY by UNSCARRED

That first live show was simply enlightening. A set I will never forget, be it because of how I immediately felt a connection between myself and the band, or simply the massive amount of stage diving that went down. In the small club, maybe 150 went simply insane, I can barely remember the other bands who played, I simply knew that Unscarred had hit on something special, triumphant even. Everyone present at the show seemed to be tapped into it, as if Unscarred had taken something from the very source of thrash metal and brought it down upon our unsuspecting heads, leaving dozens of fans dazed and confused.

It was around this time that I started to find out more about their singer, the mysterious Niloofar Melody, a girl who had been kicked out of Iran and exiled to the City of Lights. Why? For singing metal, in fact, she told me that the authorities in her home country actually think she is Satan. The bravery shown in this woman and in her dedication to music, and perhaps more importantly metal, is incredible, it speaks to the enduring power that all heavy music has. That she could rise from the ashes and be literally be “Reborn” and unscarred has never ceased to amaze me. Niloofar, or Nelly as her friends call her (And everyone is her friend) has often been seen as a driving force and the spirit behind the band, but true fans know that the story is a bit deeper than that.

Perhaps it’s most important to get at what has so far been one of the bands greatest triumphs, Mennecy Metal Festival, traditionally the last outdoor festival of the French festival season, and on this particular day Kreator was headlining. By this point I had started to get rather friendly with the Unscarred crew, Nelly, guitarists Boris and Nico, bassist Brice, and drummer Franck. Earlier in the day they had done a spectacular photo shoot with a talented local photographer, and almost all of the bands who had gone on before them were rather mediocre. When Unscarred hit the immense stage, Nelly immediately started screaming for people to get up off the ground and come headbang with her and the band.

Suffice to say, the response was immediately positive, though fans had mostly lay in the warm grass until that point in the afternoon suddenly a circle pit broke out. Within two songs they had won over the entire crowd. You’ve never seen a great live metal band, until they can take a crowd who don’t know their music, and convince them to do a massive wall of death in the middle of the afternoon. Pictures from this magical day still dominate the Unscarred Facebook page, a true crowning moment. From this show, the band saw the birth of something extremely rare for local groups to have, they got a sort of cult of superfans.

These superfans are part of what makes the band special, guys who come all the way from Belgium sometimes just to see their favorite thrash metal band. I am friends with one couple who live about an hour outside of Paris, yet have attended almost every single Unscarred gig since Mennecy. When their cassettes were released on Contorted Records in October the first run sold out within hours. Fans buy CD’s multiple times to give to their friends and put in requests for new merch they would like to see at the stand. There is a level of fan involvement here that you just don’t get in other French metal bands, and this is part of what makes this particular group so legendary and special.

What then really brings these crazy thrash fans to join the Unscarred legend? I can’t quite say for sure, but I think that the unique combination of the mythic backstory of the singer, sheer charisma, and a desire to try anything has set them apart. In a scene where so many metallers are jaded and tired I have seen old men jump in the pit because Unscarred makes them feel alive again. Is it the female vocals? Maybe. But to a large degree I think it’s simply the magic of the riffs, and the incredible energy the band bring to the stage with every performance. Be it in their stunning live shows (They are infamous for stealing the show despite being the first act on a five act bill) or in another triumph, their first televised appearance on Une Dose 2 Metal a French specialty metal TV show, these guys know how to capture hearts.

So where does that leave you and me dear reader? Well, I would say that Unscarred are the sort of band who have the potential to take over the world. Sure they’re a little older (The youngest member is 28) but even mighty thrash metal lords like Biohazard have sung their praises and ex-members of Venom, now playing in a band called M-Pire of Evil (A band which includes the almighty Mantas) have chosen Unscarred to open for them at the Triel Open Air festival in July 5. This is a band to watch, not just as a music group, but as a force, the sort of act who will triumph over the oppression that thrash has gone through and comes out the other end, stronger, faster, and somehow beautiful.

 

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