Written by: Blackie Skulless
While always leaning more towards the speed metal end of things, Skull Fist would tone that back a bit on 2018’s Way Of The Road. While it didn’t stick to me as much as some of their earlier work, the latest disc Paid In Full tightens things up and slaps a sharper identity on there. Naturally, we wind up with more memorability. I’m going to preemptively see this as the point where the band fulfills a sought after “mature” sound.
Filling in different pockets of the traditional metal sound now seems more important. You still get a dose of the older speed-drenched chops, but you’re also now equally likely to encounter stompier rhythms and anything in between. Vocal harmonies add life to the choruses better than any prior Skull Fist record, and there’s certainly no shortage of bassy integrity behind higher leads. In short, some of the most desired parts of the genre are found, and they blend together incredibly.
Looking at the individual songs, I found the slower numbers to actually be some of my favorites. “Madman” is a monstrous tune that feels so refined, and the title track does this with a little more melody and uplifting vibes. On the front of faster blasters, see “Blackout” for the most direct route. “Long Live The Fist” grabs that feature and douses the listener with sharp guitar wails over the tightest basslines on the record. Power stance riffs cover this thing all the way through, and the fact that it’s shorter and cuts out any bullshit helps.
I don’t really see the band ever topping 2014's Chasing The Dream, but Paid In Full certainly is the closest contender so far, acting as a calmer backside to their strongest disc. Giving me thirty-three minutes of your best work is usually the quickest way to my heart with traditional metal. There are plenty of exceptions, but these Canadian rockers know where they fit best.
Skull Fist - Paid In Full was released April 22nd, 2022 via Atomic Fire Records
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We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.