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!
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has contributed to MaximumMetal.com since it's conception in 2003. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia. You can also find him on his paperbackwarrior.com blog discussing all things action and adventure.
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