This month, we’re doing something special for Death Metal Dossier, where Manny and Ryan attempt to shed some light on the moldy crypts of underground death metal. This month, we’re highlighting not one, but three short debut releases from three different underground bands in what we like to call Democember! Welcome to Part II of our series where we take a look at Skullcrush’s demo Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse.
Ryan: Speaking of Bolt Thrower, if Carnal Ruin embraced the more refined era of the band, then Phoenix, Arizona’s Skullcrush are absolutely claiming the earlier days of the band. First there’s the obvious: the cover wouldn’t look out of place next to Concession of Pain or In Battle There Is No Law (and the Conan bit harkens to War Master as well). Secondly, the fuzzy, speaker-blowing production nails the late-80s aesthetic and feel of atmosphere. The music itself does contain elements of Bolt Thrower, but they feel more organic than merely copy-catted riffs lifted straight from the source. The songs are well-constructed and move between slow trudges and fast breakouts. The all-out d-beat explosion on “Mists Of Blood” will bring out the Neanderthal in any self-respecting fan of death metal before dropping into a crawl like the weight of an 80-pound warhammer to the back of an unsuspecting foe amidst the chaos of battle. The seven-and-a-half-minute closer “Hellwater” brings out cavalry for an epic final stand against the hordes of enemies as Skullcrush battles their way through the hazy fog of war. With Visions Of The Firestorm Eclipse, Skullcrush eviscerates the weak and empower the strong on the never-ending campaign to champion true death metal in the modern age.
Manny: You’ve really got to hand it to Ryan. When he wants to listen to bands that worship Bolt Thrower, he goes out and finds a bunch. Skullcrush is yet another band with all the artillery-smashing rhythms and cavalry-stampeding riffs of Bolt Thrower. The production however, is pristine for their sound, instead of muffling and drowning instrumentation in a murky abyss of audio bleed, higher-tuned drums, lower-mixed vocals and guitars that alternate between coalescence and divergence with regard to tone. Perhaps the most mature of this here bunch of demos, Skullcrush sound festival-ready very early in their career highlighted by ability to use short rhythmic bridges in between contradicting rhythmic assaults. As Ryan mentioned, Skullcrush can turn a deathly walk in an alligator-infested swamp into a ripping d-beat riot in downtown Stockholm. As an alternative, Skullcrush can grind things to a near doomy halt with breakdowns as they do on “Mists of Blood.” If you’re suffering a lack of free time, I’d recommend prioritizing Skullcrush as something to listen to in the immediate future. Unless you’re lame and don’t want to enjoy your life. Then you should definitely avoid this super fun EP.