Review Summary: Sinister thrash from the 80's
Num Skull is an early thrash band formed in the Midwest in 1985. Their first demo Num's the Word is a very underrated piece of thrash metal history. The bands later releases would show more of a death metal edge than their first recordings but when taking into consideration the time this demo was recorded this demo is like a hammer pounding in the face of the listener. To top it off with a run time of over thirty minutes the demo is long enough to qualify as a full length.
The album holds an abundance of quality riffs that even the most experienced thrashers can find some enjoyment in. The song "Off With Your Head" starts off with a vicious tempo changing riff that aims for the head which later on evens out into an onslaught of low end, bass heavy thrash. While other tracks take a different approach and risk slowing things down in order to create an epic atmosphere, see "Pirate's Night" for an example of this. The song starts out with a galloping bass line and a mezmerizing groove, this groove slowly moves its way into a thrashier territory and reaches an orgasmic climax with a short lived solo that is sure to melt the face of anyone who dares to listen.
The vocal work is fairly dynamic. The range jumps from full fledged singing to a high pitched shriek in a matter of moments. The high end vocal style that is used contrast the deep end sound of the instrumentals that overall gives the demo a certain charm that not many others have. While some may consider the vocals to be raw and grating the power of the music outweighs any problem someone may have with the vocalist.
The bass, as mentioned before is much higher in the mix than your average metal band tends to place it. This gives the album a heavy deep end that somehow adds to the chaotic sound Num Skull puts out. A lot of the time the bassist is just following the guitarist lead but that isn't always the case. At times he will go into his own zone and take the spotlight. Eisenhauers bass playing is a perfect example of why certain bands should crank the knobs on the bass amp just as hard as the guitarist does. His playing truly adds to the album and the music most definitely wouldn't have the same effect if he wasn't present in the sound.
The riffs are simple for the most part but catchy and heavy enough to tide the average metalhead over for the duration of the demo. If you keep in mind that Num's the Word isn't as death metal influenced as the band would later become than you should have a good time listening to it. For a demo from the mid-80's the production is nice and full and everything can be made out very clearly. Overall this demo gets a solid four out of five. Num Skull is one of the 80's thrash gods that have been pushed to the side like hundreds of others.