Review Summary: Germany's heaviest thrash band at the top of their game.
Of all the extreme thrash albums out there, none of them really hit the perfect halfway point between death metal and thrash quite like A Shedding of Skin.
The production is worth a mention because it's probably the biggest contributor to how much heavier the album sounds compared to the contemporary albums of its time (maybe Slaughter in the Vatican matches up to it just about). It essentially sounds like a Scott Burns mix with much thicker low end and meatier drums, which provides just enough clarity and searing aggression from the guitars, with enough heaviness to really make all the grooves feel as strong as the faster parts. The bass also has a fair bit of presence, which helps to add to the brutal low end.
The vocals are also a big factor in the album's leanings towards death metal. Vocalist Olly Wiebel has probably the perfect range of harsh vocals for an album of this type, with harsh shouts similar to those of Sepultura or Sodom and great guttural growls that are better than 90% of the attempts from death metal bands of the time. Similarly, the guitars often opt for tropes more often found in death metal, such as palm-muted power chords which result in some excellent heavy transitions, and dark, tritonal arpeggios. This adds a lot of extra range to the album, as tracks like Face Fear
venture into darker, doomier territory than most thrash bands; not that they even really need it, as Protector seems to have perfected the dark art of the riff already. Even more straightforward thrashers like Retribution in Darkness
have some brilliant groovy riffs.
The album has only one weakness. No matter how many baller riffs it throws at you, the songs largely feel pretty much the same regardless, so it does in a way dull its own best attributes. It's still not too bad in that regard, since a few tracks like the slower Tantalus
and the even more death-metally Death Comes Soon
help vary the sound more towards the end, but the middle stretch of the album may come off a bit same-y. Nonetheless, few bands manage to really put music as unrelentingly heavy and aggressive as this. If you want your thrash extreme, this is about as good as it gets.