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Excellent Traditional Metal in the 21st Century - 90%

Xyston, December 31st, 2010

The first time I came across Skull Fist was about 3 years ago, when I was walking through a street in downtown Toronto. Being a devout metalhead and a native of the city, I was immediately excited when I stumbled across a poster on the side of a small club, promoting an upcoming show for local metal bands. Skull Fist's logo (and just the name itself) seemed to be screaming classic heavy metal to me, my greatest love, so I lost no time upon returning home to search them on the internet and find any information about this obscure band.

At the time, Skull Fist had only a couple complete tracks up on their website for listening, and while I enjoyed the rough recording of "Blackout", they just didn't have enough material for me to form a solid opinion on their overall quality as a band. I soon forgot about them, and their lineup changes and extremely underground status made me think that Skull Fist wouldn't really end up doing much - just another bunch of kids playing heavy metal.

Fast forward to 2010, and my buddy starts telling me about how he has recently discovered some great traditional metal - pretty old-school stuff. I ask him who it is, and he says "Skull Fist". The name had certainly stuck in my head, so when he mentioned they had released a kick-ass EP, my interest in this band was instantly reignited. I was surprised to find "Heavier than Metal" on iTunes, and lost no time buying it. And let me tell you, I was very, VERY satisfied with what I bought.

"Heavier than Metal" is primarily in the vein of traditional metal, but there are certainly some power metal elements to be found, as well as dashes of speed/thrash metal here and there. The opening track "Sign of the Warrior" is certainly the most power metal-sounding here, and is an absolutely great way to plunge into this EP, with it's pounding double bass. It's a fast song, and has some excellent guitar harmonies reminiscent of Maiden and Priest, with a chorus that reminded me of some early Blind Guardian and Helloween. Perhaps the thing that hit me the hardest was how great the solos were. Frontman Jackie Slaughter and guitarist Ken Neilson know how to compose some really great lead guitar lines that are both technical and memorable, and the overall compositions of the songs here clearly contain talent and easily surpass some of the more dull bands playing traditional metal nowadays (I'm looking at you, White Wizzard). Next up is the title track, which is one my favourites on this EP, with its fast, chugging riff, badass attitude and lyrics that make you proud to be a metalhead. Once again, the solos are excellent and the song-structure is tight. While Jackie's vocals could use some work, as they're a little too nasally when he sings high at times, they don't harm the music very much at all and are definitely listenable, as I still enjoyed them.

After comes "Blackout", and man, this song has changed since I first remember hearing it! After a nice, brief acoustic guitar intro, the song charges into full power and catches your attention with the main riff's rocky, aggressive swagger. The section following the solos is quite cool and will have you headbanging right up to the start of "Ride the Beast", another of my favourites from this EP. This is a very traditional metal song, and just has everything going for it - riffs that'll be stuck in your head for days, epic Maidenesque harmonies, and soaring vocals. By this point on the EP, you won't be surprised that the solos are again superb. "No False Metal" is an awesome way to close the EP with its thrashy riffs, power metal vibe, and anthemic chorus. This is a song I'd love to throw the all the -core kids into the pit to, since this is one hell of a song that would undoubtedly have every metalhead with a love for the 80s wrecking their necks, going nuts, and initiating a poser-hunt when performed live. Yes, it IS heavy enough for a good pit to get going!

To sum it all up, Skull Fist is an excellent group of young musicians who are clearly talented and have an immense appreciation for heavy metal of the 80s variety - traditional, power, and speed/thrash. They are proud to be playing heavy metal and the point here isn't innovation as much as preservation - that is, preservation of true, classic heavy metal that has been overshadowed for quite some time now by the more extreme spectrum of the metal realm. Though it's a short EP, it's very promising and I am eagerly awaiting Skull Fist's first full-length release. If you love all the legends of traditional metal - and I don't need to name them - you will be very pleased with this new Canadian band!

"The true must keep the spirit alive".