Release Date: 11 May 2018
Label Relapse Records Genre Death Metal
On May 11, 2018, American death metal veterans, Skinless, will release their sixth studio album, Savagery. As a cross-continent album, it was recorded in two locations: at Bunker Studio in New York by Tom Case and at Flatline Audio in Colorado by Dave Otero (Primitive Man, Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage).
Savagery contains 10 songs that come at you like a freight train in the night, blasting you endlessly for 37 fine moments of pure, ear-crushing death metal.
With the title track, the album opens up with some sound effects that give the impression that a vault of evil, or the gates of hell, is being opened. Then, we get a vocal incantation that seems to indicate that we’ve brought pain and suffering upon ourselves, at which point we’re invited to “die.” As the instrumentation comes in, switching from one blissful channel to the next, it quickly become clear that we’re in for an onslaught of brutality — and the track delivers classic death metal. The guitar riffs grab you by the balls, the bass guitar nuances are eargasms, the drumming is relentless, and the vocals blend death growls with what sounds almost like black metal shouts.
The next track, “Seige Engine,” delivers more of the same, but speed and consequently intensity mount. There’s even a point toward the end, around the 3:40 mark, where you think you’re going to get a break down and some reprieve, but no, as quickly as that thought enters your bruised brain, Skinless come at you full of fury. Any sort of relief from the intensity only comes in about the last minute and a half, where we’re delighted to some haunting tones.
“Skull Session” has an intro that sounds like it belongs in a sci-fifilm, not unlike Alien. After the intro, it’s more heavy riffs and brutality.
Just when we’ve thought we’ve settled in for a ride on the death metal train into hell, Skinless throws a curveball on “Reversal of Fortune.” This track, a short-lived two-minute instrumental, gives us a an acoustic intro that is, in very basic terms, incredibly beautiful sounding. Of course, it doesn’t take long for the electric guitars and the rest of the instruments to come out and play, but the established melody is maintained. This is a very welcome changeup, and it serves as the intro to “Exacting Revenge,” which seems to contain some kind of Dani Filth howls (or am I crazy?).
“Medieval” thus far is the sludgiest of the tracks, offering also the deepest grooves.
The sister track to “Reversal of Fortune” would have to be “Cruel Blade of the Guillotine,” which opens with an ominously evil sounding instrumentation that could fit on a Dio album, given his propensity for theatrics. Of course, Skinless break out of this and get onboard that death train heading straight for the gates of hell.
Overall, Savagery is a classic death metal album with just enough modern elements to keep it relevant. The riffs are infectious and the melodies are addictive. It’s heavy and it’s high on testosterone. Guitar solos are solid throughout, although they’re not going to garner any “best solo” awards. The drumming is also solid, however, they’re buried in the mix and sound like they’re wrapped in bear skin, but they’re still not as bad as the drum sound on Van Halen’s 5150. Savagery is a fantastic example of how good death metal can be, while still maintaining its brutality. Playlist for sure, but remember that this album is about the journey, not necessarily about individual songs.
Rock Hard \m/