Review Summary: Long overdue new release proves to be worthy of the wait
Despite the passing of times and numerous acts releasing their attempts at what they think face pummeling terrorizing brutality should sound like, kids are still out there in their basements putting together their versions of what they think hardcore should have always been. It seems as if aggressive music has made its way into a digestible format, seeing as how no matter how extreme the metal can get, or how many bass drops and squealers are found on a particular album, children all across the mall will still be bopping to their iPods with new releases, which is fine (I remember being eight years old when I first got my paws on Pantera's "The Great Southern Trendkill," so who can hate") yet is still a growing concern. This can be traced to a few years ago, and it seems as if 2007 spawned about a new breed of acts that brought upon a new day and reigned partial darkness over metal. As if the sewers spilled out and filled the streets with tons of trash and rubbish, purging their filth into the city. Amidst the debris, was TTEOTD's "Malice," which amongst the ridiculous efforts made by others, managed to shed light on the growing scene.
Here was an album that was full of low-end riffs, windmill bass drum beats, and deep bellows brought forth by an experienced front man. Here we are three years later with a new installment from one of metal's current extreme champions. I was personally a pretty enthusiastic supporter of Premonitions of War, and was rather excited when I saw the singer perform with the band when they opened for The Red Chord later that year. For one, I had no idea POW weren't together anymore, and two I had never really bothered to stay updated on his profile, especially with twitter only being a thing of recent times. Despite this minor detail, "Skepsis" features a new front man. We're introduced with a more than streamlined approach here as there is a wide range between death growls and screeches that prove to be somewhat enjoyable. The vocals really have never been a focal point of this band and there really is no need to spend much time on their details.
The core and "soul" of the album lies within the string trio. These guys have been with the group since the start and have established their signature Aztec/Mediterranean polish that has lured their solos and leads into an impressive amount of melodies and compositions. Aside from this culturally themed note slaughtering, there is a constant bottom end picking of open strings and fast-paced riffage that would make the average person slap on their "I'm With Stupid" shirt. These guys have their parts on a lockdown. They produced the album, and they got what they wanted. Not much has strayed from their "Malice" formula, which if you ask Cannibal Corpse (a band that hasn't strayed from their formula in almost 20 years) can be a good thing. Just check the noodling found at the end of "Inherit Obscurity," you'll know what we're talking about here.
The drums on "Skepsis" are something to speak for. The performance on "Malice" was drool-worthy and it was a tough digestion of news when the band indicated they had let go of their previous performer. On "Skepsis," you can find Mike Rinke from My Bitter End, doing the best he can to stay afloat the reality boat of mish-mash and make his mark on the band's attempt to destroy little villages and plunder deep sea treasures. On "The Renovation," (My Bitter End's impressive debut for Uprising that was released in 2007) Mike was able to melt away the skins of his toms and showcase a pretty worthy approach to technical progressive metal. On "Skepsis" he certainly does not fail at an all out call to arms for flaming battalions and war horns. On several occasions there are remarkable fills that produce an element of surprise and assist the group in getting to that "next level" of extreme brutality. Although his drum set has always been a bit of a mess and when you see this band live, the reaction is 100% of the time "so, like, is this it"" but the fact that he can produce the sound he does with a four piece, is certainly a victory in my book. Then again, I've only been playing the drums for about 13 years.
So, now we're left with a respectable fill-in singer, a very well justified string section, and a commander of war on the drums, who has been turning everything he touches into gold since he first entered the studio. "Skepsis" is a respectable album with a solid nine tracks of madness that are a breath of fresh air in a scene that has been saturated with stylish garbage. The packaging on the album is certainly quite impressive with the lyrics in the book being all hand written in white ink, and the back end of the book being a rather lavish portrait in coated blue's and black's. The inlay is a white case that showcases the cd in all its glory with a silver image on the disc that accommodates the portrait on the cover. At the end of the day, “Skepsis” is a worthy listen that makes the wait for the release justified as it provides something new for your ears to bleed to.