[Mother Superior, jumping the gun*]: When the band is called Skumstrike and the cover art looks like that, Brother Francis, you know just what you’re getting: beach-tinged acoustic strumming, lavender incense, and sensitive crooning. The world is noisy and ugly, so these gentle souls have decided to transport you to a place of serenity – the beatific calm of the truly enlightened.
[William Shakespeare, arisen from the dead and with his disarticulated zombie joints grafted to a metallic cyborg frame]:
Mother, I fear thy words lead us astray
when spake of metal harsh and merc’less fast.
The lads – Skumstrike – need not thy jesting verse,
nor yet thy fairest raiment wove to last –
at last, the last day dawns in ragged ire.
Fuck off, get real about this killer band.
[Superior]: But of course, this is a jest. When the band is called Skumstrike and the cover art looks like that, Sister Margaret, you know just what you’re getting: the kind of rude, corrosive, flayed-skin antagonism that gives the lie to the old chestnut “beauty in all things, and in all things beauty.” (Yes, yes, Sister, I know this is not a real idiom; kindly shut your piehole.) Skumstrike is the kind of band that sounds like matins sung in the shadow of a mushroom cloud. Skumstrike is the kind of band you bring home to your mother only if your mother is a motorcycle with flames painted on the sides that runs on high-proof whiskey. Skumstrike, in sum, is the kind of band that plays the kind of heavy metal that loves heavy metal.
Skumstrike’s Quebec origins could explain their bloody-grin kinship with Voivod’s first two albums, but the overall style on display in Deadly Intrusions is one that, though hardly overflowing with originality, teems with so many of the bristling sounds of the most savagely electric metal. After all, if you’re listening to Motorhead and hoping to hear Rush, there’s little to be done. Skumstrike’s basic framework is built on the sturdily furious two-step of Discharge, with generous helpings of primitive black/thrash (think Aura Noir or Condor at their crudest, or Kreator’s earliest rumblings) and a heaping serving of both Celtic Frost at their most proto-black and Darkthrone and their Celtic Frostiest. These songs are lean, hungry, and wild, but they pack surprisingly fleet tricks up their seemingly single-minded sleeves.
I’ faith, my scruples quail when faced with rage
that grows yet fiercer when the tempos speed
from fast to faster then to blazing hot.
These screams that reek of gargled razors need
must force my fist to pierce the sky with scorn
for all that e’re dared play metal like wimps.
[Superior]: Bill, we get it: you’re a fancy fuck. My apologies, Brothers and Sisters of the abbey: Brother William is still sour at having his trademark claim rejected for the altogether spurious technique clinic he wanted to mount under the name “Stratocaster-upon-Avon.” Back to the matter at hand: the eleven tracks of Deadly Intrusions rocket by in just over thirty minutes, which means that Skumstrike get in, blitz the landscape, and get out before the listener is quite sure what happened.
Part of Skumstrike’s overwhelming charm is the sense that their feral aggression pushes things just to the rickety breaking point, like on “Ritual Murder,” where they’re playing so fast that they almost get out in front of themselves, or with the scummy bass buzz that opens “Another Shot of Fear,” giving the piece a more pronounced crust element. Elsewhere, “Blood Red Vision” drops into one of those tremendously filthy, shit-kicking Celtic Frost grooves just after the one-minute mark (so any still-throned emperors, kindly watch yourselves), while the equally filthy groove just after two minutes in is straight out of the Slayer playbook. The closing Poison Idea cover is icing on an already delectably filthy cake, but the title track serves as the true conclusion, leading off with an eerie melodic fragment that drops easily into a d-beat pummeling which twists and contorts through a bunch of knotty rhythmic sections before cruising back to a staccato burnout celebration.
If after these sharp shocks thy brain thinks still
of peace and love and cloudless blue-skied dreams,
the only salve one yet can offer thee
is turn it up again and melt the seams
that stitch thy worthless brain into thine head.
The head that bangeth not is best off dead.
[Superior]: Skumstrike is not exactly the Platonic ideal of anything in particular, because Plato was a shiftless layabout who played mind games in a cave and basically knew nothing about how to kick ass and play metal. Skumstrike, by contrast, knows how to kick ass and play metal. Do you like metal? Have you lusted after speed and sleaze without knowing exactly why? Skumstrike knows why. Beauty in all things, and in all fucking badass things beauty.
(*Happiness is a warm pun, after all.)