Skelethal – Deathmanicvs Revelation (Caligari Records, 2014)

skelethal - cover

Skelethal are a French duo whom I first encountered via their ripping Morbid Ovation demo, which was re-released earlier this year as a split cassette with Swedish death metal miscreants Inisans on Caligari Records, a label that seems to have a knack for digging up quality acts from across the spectrum of heavy metal.  I was impressed by the savagery and exuberance of that tape, and looked forward to hearing more from this promising band; little did I know my wait would be such a short one.  Only a few months after the split with Inisans, Skelethal is back with a proper EP in the form of Deathmanicvs Revelation, a release which both capitalizes on the promise shown on that aforementioned demo and ups the ante considerably.

If you’ve heard the band’s previous tape you already know that you’re in for a Stockholm-style OSDM ass-whupping, and those unfamiliar can probably discern from just glancing at their logo that these cats worship at the altar of the Boss HM-2.  But what you won’t know until you actually pop in the tape and press play is that Skelethal have stepped up their game since Morbid Ovation; although they continue to attack their material with a healthy dose of punk-fueled reckless abandon, they’ve tightened things up in the playing department.  Whereas they previously sounded ramshackle and ready to fly off the rails at any given moment, they now sound like a well-oiled, albeit caked in filth and somewhat rusty, killing machine.

The production has improved significantly as well; Deathmanicvs Revelation is loud, gnarly and ugly as all get out, ditching some of the basement recording charm of Morbid Ovation and replacing it with a fuller, even more bulldozing sound.  Two tracks from the demo, “Death Returns” and “Putrefaction” appear here, and they are improved upon in every way.  Skelethal have created a better sounding recording, but in the band’s world, “better” is the difference between being clubbed over the head repeatedly with a two-by-four and being clubbed over the head repeatedly with a two-by-four with nails through it.

One thing you will not hear on Deathmanicvs Revelation is innovation, but that’s simply not what a band like Skelethal is about; they’re about playing the music they love and paying tribute to the bands that influenced them, and lets be honest, this is a hell of a lot more listenable and a hundred times more fun than whatever bearded blackened sludgy d-beaten post metal crapola the bigger metal labels are slinging around like runny hash in a prison cafeteria.  What Skelethal lack in originality they make up for with heart, even if that heart is putrefied.  The cassette is currently available from Caligari, but the tapeophobes out there can snag it on vinyl or digital download via Iron Bonehead.


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