Metal-core must be a harsh mistress; otherwise, you'd think that more bands in the genre would at least try to inject a shred of originality or imagination into their music. If Orange County's Scars of Tomorrow don't necessarily succeed in escaping from the thud-chunk-growl straitjacket, at least they try and end up standing hairdo and shoulders above most of their contemporaries. Led by the clearly tortured soul of singer Mike Milford who, to his credit, isn't above swiping a line or two from Black Flag the quintet ties the raw meat of its riffs together with atmospheric washes and echoing interludes that hint at melody without ever curdling into cheese. The group has enlisted Isis/Mastodon producer (and Minus the Bear member) Matt Bayles to oversee its fourth and latest disc, The Horror of Realization, and the effect is heavy, progressive and anthemic. Earth-shattering? No. Ear-shattering? Yes but not without a restless spirit and an experimental bent that might just save the Scars from the metal-core scrap heap.