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One of the key reasons that there is somewhat of a backlash towards the massive amount of new bands out today playing metal in the vein of the old-school, is that these bands show no originality or come off as complete ripoffs of their influences. You wouldn't believe how many bands out there are guilty of this, whether they're playing retro-thrash, death metal, doom metal or any other ancient form of metal, they are generic and not worth another listen. But that isn't the case for all bands. There are some bands out there who can manage to emulate their influences in nearly every category, yet sound refreshing and great all the same. Orange County's death metal five-piece, Skinfather falls into the latter category with their Nihilist/Entombed worship.
"Atheos" is the band's debut five-track demo and this is how death metal is meant to be played in 2012. Raw, aggressive, and angry. I must emphasize angry when mentioning Skinfather, a band that features members from the metallic hardcore group Creatures, because that hardcore feel is present mainly in the vocals. This guy's vocals sound pissed and when backed by the incredibly heavy riffage, the need to break something or someone arises. The opening track "Christ Disease" starts with a feedback-ridden sample of some shitty Beatles song (I think it's the Beatles anyway) before turning into a violent assault of good ol' fashioned Swedeath style riffs that are later followed by the already mentioned hardcore-esque vocals. Personally, hardcore has never been a genre that I've been a fan of, but the vocals here suit the relentless music perfectly and also give Skinfather some factor of "uniqueness."
Skinfather's hardcore-tinged, death metal assault doesn't let up at all. "Unburial Rites" and "Slave to Faith" hit the listener one after the other like a sledgehammer across the jaw and bring about memories of Entombed's more hectic and violent tunes while the next track "Dead Deity" opens with a cool bassline and some heavy chords before giving the listener goosebumps with the haunting melody that follows. The title track, actually has quite a bit of a Bolt Thrower influence, especially in the way that the double-bass drums have an extremely thunderous sound and the doomy riff near the end of the song.
It's starting to look like Sweden has some competition as far as this whole Swedeath worshiping group of bands goes. Bands like Terminate, Fatalist and now Skinfather all have made their mark on the American scene and I couldn't be happier. If you're a fan of old-school death metal, then there is no reason that you won't like these guys, so stop being a hater on the new breed and give "Atheos" a listen.
"Slave to Faith"
Originally written for Skull Fracturing Metal Zine.
ἄθεος (atheos) – 'without gods' in English – would be the debut release of the American band Skinfather; whose band name I do not really get, but that is only a minor issue. The title of the release is pretentious of course, because the band uses English lyrics while no cursing in some obscure ancient Greek can be found. So much for consistency or expectations.
An aspect that strikes the listener as important is the overall intensity and the tendency of the band to create an uniform atmosphere; some tracks even lead over to next one and with no gap in sight, as if it had been a one session/take in which it all has been recorded. There are a lot of hardcore influences and they shine through in the overall conceptual approach of the music: the breaks, the dynamics and the tempo. The riffs are actually quite nice but some additional solos would have been a welcome diversion; only the title track would have one.
Skinfather play heavy and powerful death metal / hardcore, which can be enjoyed quite easily. At times there are too many vocals and too few counterpoints in the concept. Fans of a rather intense mixture of these two genres might want to give this band/release a try.
Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 20)’: