Written by: Blackie Skulless
Skeleton are another one of those bands we get a couple of per year that blow up seemingly overnight. Hailing from Austin, Texas, they bring forth a common but solid brand of death/thrash/black metal that touches many a fanbase. Pairing this with the fact that they’re (apparently) big in their local scene, they’ve caused a lot of hype. More often than not, this leads me to disappointment, but thankfully that isn’t the case with their debut record Skeleton.
Getting it out on the table now, this band is all over the place. Certain things can be picked out to observe each style. The riffing aesthetic is from a thrashier standpoint, the drumming and rhythmic integrity comes from the death metal ideals, and the vocals cast blackened mold that seeps into the foundation everywhere else in small doses. But even with that rather stable construct, the songwriting jumps all across the spectrum, running into hell and back. Admittedly, this is Skeleton’s only flaw, seeing how often the mood jumps around. The lack of flow forces the blackened feel to act as the only adhesive.
But the songs themselves are performed incredibly! Skeleton hooks you right in with their self-titled, no-bullshit opener containing melancholic but memorable licks. But right after that you get a sweaty taste of an angry sounding mosh-banger known as “Mark Of Death.” “Taste Of Blood” is a fun one that drives that single-note bridge to enchanting and frightening degrees. Had it not been for the few sadder-sounding numbers, the fearful backing would have propped this up even higher.
Of course, some of the thrash aspects here bring forth the band’s hardcore punk energy from earlier days. “T.O.A.D.” is the second shortest track (behind “Victory”) and blasts you with mean rhythms while being slightly upbeat. Closer “Catacombs” is the only song to reach four minutes, and it starts on a somber note, morphing into a monstrous, blast-beat-happy body that reflects everything presented previously. The other song that could have finished things with strength is “At War,” with its slower approach erupting into speed chugging and crushing drum kicks. Instead, it’s like a nice center piece to split the album in half.
Really, the magic behind Skeleton’s effort lies within how much they could do with so little. The style itself is basic, and lacks originality. The songwriting, however, is so immaculate that twenty-seven minutes of rehashing old grounds still bears tons to unpack. I won’t pretend that this is the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever heard, but color me fucking impressed. Anyone who digs really any kind of extreme metal or punk should peep this disc.
Skeleton - Skeleton was released July 10th, 2020 from 20 Buck Spin
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!