Skelethal back with second EP of year, refine death machine on gory ‘Interstellar Knowledge…’

SkelethalThe spooky season is behind us now, what with Halloween being over, but that doesn’t mean we have to put away the skeletal scariness, the blood, and the guts. Not when we have a new mini-release from Skelethal, a French horror squad that makes death metal that’s filthy and true.

Following this year’s “Deathmanicvs Revelation,” a well-received debut EP offering on Iron Bonehead, they have roared back with their new “Interstellar Knowledge of the Purple Entity,” an effort that sounds more colorful than the music itself. That doesn’t mean it’s not interesting and satisfying, because it is. Instead, it offers drab blacks and greys, with splatters of blood red, exactly what you’d expect from a band of this ilk. The music is gruff, ugly, totally unpolished, and obviously steeped in the death metal of old, where ripped skin, crushed bones, and destruction were all that mattered. If you’ve dined too much on the polished, slick death metal of today, designed to move units and get merch into mall stores catering to teens, get ready for a sobering awakening.

12Jacket_3mm_spine_all_sides.inddThe band remains an unholy union of two artists—vocalist/guitarist Gui Haunting and drummer/bassist Jon Whiplash. Both also play in thrash metal band Infinite Translation, though here they get to show their burlier, more aggressive side. If you were along for the “Deathmanicvs” offering, you’ll be right at home, as the band piles more bodies into the machine and prepares to bury them alive against their will. Their songs have catchy elements that go along with the horror, and you even can hear some of the thrashiness of their other band coming out from time to time. They have a damn good thing going here, and it’ll be cool to hear what they can do with a full-length.

The five-track album gets off to a strange start with eerie instrumental “Subterranean High,” an introductory piece built with weird noises, piano notes dropping, and what sound like submarine signals, making you feel like you’re starting off buried beneath the ocean. The title cut then tears in and turns everything doomy and miserable right away, with raw death transmissions, really strong riffs, and infernal growls that send a chill down your spine. Eventually the band speeds it up, turning vicious and fiery, and the track ends with the stench of vintage fury. “Sabbatical Demonic Invocation” is dark and a little muddier, with some of their thrash tendencies coming out. The song progresses and rots like a plague, at times hitting the gas pedal and steamrolling, at others feeling satisfied with drubbing you senseless. “Slaughtered From Beyond” is mean and chugs hard, with crunchy, spidery guitar leads, even grislier vocals, and nasty playing, pushing their ferocity into newfound intensity levels. Closer “Torn Apart” is aptly titled, with murderous guitar work setting the pace, the vocals sounding like they’re shedding blood, and more doom terror rising up and caking everything in soot. Speed erupts, as these guys make it a point to end the release on the most destructive note possible, sending up their most violent, punishing work in the record’s final seconds. Prepare to be drained when this is finished.

Skelethal have given us old-school death metal fans a lot to enjoy this year with both EP releases, and “Interstellar Knowledge of the Purple Entity” sounds like a band sure of its mission and unafraid to grind people’s face into the muck. This is more crushing chaos from a band that is determined to bring death back to its gory roots, and we all need more of that to keep this genre as disgusting and nasty as possible.

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