Heavier Than Metal
Chock full of foot-stomping gems that are laced with machine gun-like riffs
If you haven't heard of SKULL FIST this album will catch your attention and turn you on to their traditional, yet brutal sound.
Sure their name sounds cheesy. It may scare you into thinking they're 80's clones. It may even make you laugh. But formed in 2006 up here in 'The Great White North' more specifically Toronto, Ontario, Canada. SKULL FIST consisting of Jackie Slaughter (Rhythm Guitars), Ken Neilson (Lead Guitars) and Alison Thunderland (Drums) delivers on their just released debut album "Heavier Than Metal". Up to this point they only had a demo called "No False Metal", which shows up here, to hang their hat on.
I have to say that I love finding Metal that echos the 'Old School'. Metal that I can really sink my teeth into and when it comes from my home and native land it's even better. We have so few Metal bands that we can boast about that go on to reach a level of success somewhere else and it usually comes with shades of Pop Rock for that guaranteed mainstream hit blended in (See Helix). Let alone Metal bands that bring to the table the early 80's Metal sound aside from Anvil and Kraken. A sound that comes loaded down with anthemic choruses without compromising at the expense of quality and a never surrender attitude. But these guys are the real deal! Their influences ranging from Loudness to Priest. And they strut it proudly on an album that's chock full of foot-stomping gems that are laced with machine gun-like riffs.
Take for example the track 'Heavier Than Metal' which is by far the best track on the album. It kicks off with a rocking riff before jumping into a mesh of thumping bass, banging drums with a great Metal falsetto in the chorus that screams to the Metal Gods. 'Sign of The Warrior' with it's blistering speed and high pitched vocals that race right to the end. Or 'Ride The Beast' a song that is a shredders delight. And of course I have to mention the track 'Blackout' with it's take no prisoners war cry shreiking out from under layers of thunderous Heavy Metal bliss.
The great thing about bands like this is how they bring in new fans who think it's a trend. To them it's not something they've heard before. It may even lead them down the road to finding the originals who developed this sound. But if it turns them into full fledged Metalheads who really cares when it came out right?
Vintage steel with the fury and intensity of mosh
I was talking to a label guy the other day (no names, label is in England...starts with an E...hint hint), and we a debated the point that a band doesn't have to make forward progression or be innovative to be fun. I agree whole heartedly but at the same time a band really should encompass a full spectrum of ability from what today's standards require to an individual style--something that makes it THEM. The metal spectrum is ripe with explosive scenes like glam (Sweden), true metal (US, Canada) and the still breeding US metalcore den. All of those scenes are made with plenty of random cut-and-paste methods, acts that take it upon themselves to not only be inspired but also to live out the dream with little in the way of forward progression, innovation or individuality. The bands are enjoyable on record and probably super-fab in a live setting, but at the end of the day just don't bring enough to the table to create a repeated listen. As the days go by and more and more bands run this cycle you will find my reviews in particular looking for that true metal band that soaks in more than just fun but actual memories. A band like SKULL FIST.
Skull Fist comes by way of Toronto Canada and joins the list of youthful true metal hopefuls hitting the curb and preaching the word. The group released their debut recording in March of this year, a blistering five track affair called "Heavier Than Metal".
The band is just absolutely freakin' brilliant. They have the energy and instability of the 80s sunset strip, when Crue and the boys just ran wild...that attitude that fellow staffer Nailer would describe as "driving a car into a swimming pool" (fun; without thought required). These young Canadians have THAT, the raging fire to roam wild and run free...foraging in and out of the caverns of rock's future stardom in search of bountiful glory. They have fun with it, embrace the crowd and don't take themselves seriously. At the same time the group has deadly accuracy, honing in on that unique talent that fueled Dianno's troops in '81 and set England as the prime pit stop for the power and the glory.
You could look at hit...and I'm gonna say HIT even though you and the band don't know it yet..."Ride The Beast" as a no frills gasoline soaked block of fury. The gallop and crunch of THE RIFF drives the track into your spine, but Jackie Slaughter's voice is just commanding in nature, hitting the highs of the late Carl Albert (Villain, Vicious Rumors) and belting out steel melting fury that recalls the loose Vince Neil swagger--if he were from Sweden and lived by the sword with the likes of Overdrive or Heavy Load.
The group still doesn't forsake what is hot today though, what the mallrats are wearing on buttons, patches and tees. Skull Fist uses the gang chorus and chants...the Guitar Hero backbone of chorus' rants here and there, bringing to mind the coolness of Atreyu or the hip ease of Bang Camaro. By no means is the band any of the three at one time, but dips a torch in each. The band have the speed and technical finesse to mosh and rage with the retro thrashers, easily accessible to fans of Municipal Waste or Evile, but still possessing that overall denim and leather appeal to please the diehards.
Easily Iron Maiden and Saxon come to mind but the group have a good grasp on what made the early US metal scene bloom, myself recalling Sacred Rite, Riot or early Jag Panzer. "Warrior's Sign" is vintage steel with the fury and intensity of mosh, Jackie Slaughter all over the mic with that big range and crystal clarity. "Blackout" has Hollywood hook but still that speed wallop of twin guitar mayhem, laced with the dueling leads that are just all over the place. Fitting that guitarist Ken Neilson wears a Loudness shirt on stage, the madman is very fluid and neo-classical reminiscent of Japan's Akira Takasaki.
I could write on and on about these guys and rival the lengths of a Harry Potter diary but at the end of the day Skull Fist are just simply the cream of the crop and can only get better. I sure hope the band still retains this vibrant and raw energy once the labels take notice. This stuff is MILES beyond others in their class like Midnight Idols, Black Tide, Three Inches Of Blood, White Wizzard, Bible Of The Devil and the metal jocks playing your local laundry-mat. It is all fun and entertaining but Skull Fist just does it better than most and probably don't even realize it.
Earache, Century Media, AFM, Frontiers and basement bookies....please take notice!