Savagery takes a somewhat different course. Not as much “Serpenticide” here; instead a lot of chugging. I mean a lot. Almost Chris Barnes amounts of chugging. Which is not a bad thing, especially given Skinless’ penchant for lighting the chugs up with some technical flair here and there. Many great death metal records are built around the mighty chug.
And yet this record is missing something Only the Ruthless Remain had: intensity. The mix squanders the band’s best attribute. The guitars are a little edgeless, the vocals are a little too high in the mix, the drums tend to get a little washed and the bass is a little notion. “Siege Engine” should be a relentless… well, siege engine – crushing, violent, inevitable, invincible. The parts are all there. Great riffs, good performances, cool structure. But in the end it falls flatter than… a flattened… siege engine, I guess.
Even the most blistering track on the record, “Line of Dissent,” suffers from the lackluster mix. And this song ought to be a flesh burner. Hell, it almost is. To be very clear, this is a collection of really cool songs, by a really capable band, but right from the opening chords of “Savagery” it is clear this is not up to the standard set by the previous album.
So is it worth owning? That is hard to say. Quality in almost every aspect should recommend it, but that damned mix… I can’t see myself returning to this album often, if at all. It has what it might take to grow on me, but I won’t hold my breath. It stands up to most average sounding DM records, but the genre is a very, very competitive place these days, and average will not be enough to keep this record from becoming an also-ran.
The good news is, and I can’t stress this enough, Skinless have what it takes to kill. Let’s hope their next outing gives their sound the weapons it needs.