SKULLVIEW, Skullview (1997, demo)
This image appeared on a demo cassette, which helps fill the frame with one humongous skull! The skull seems to be leering at what it views: endless humans, clones apparently, all with shaved heads, looking like victims in some hellish concentration camp (is there any other kind of concentration camp?). They are not at all happy, and in fact look quite desperate, while the skull grins as if to say “I diiiig what this skull is viewin’, baby.” One can imagine the wider picture, too, the skull perched on top of its skeletal frame, sitting on a chopper riding down a highway in the valley of the damned. Pure evil, or something. An interesting image, one of my personal favorites in the BDS Skullection.
I have a soft spot for this sort of stuff, and while bands like Omen, Heavy Load, Manilla Road and even early Nocturnal Rites epitomize the purest heavy metal, constant rehash by newer and younger bands almost dilutes the whole idea. There are few bands that have landed in the 2000s doing something extraordinary, although Lost Horizon and Pharaoh should be mentioned, yet even those bands have a more refined, modern feel. As for the likes of Enforcer, Portrait and In Solitude, I get it, but the older bands still wrote better and more lasting songs. All this to say that Skullview were right there in 1997, when this sort of thing was at its lowest ebb of popularity, at least until Hammerfall blew up later that year. This demo sounds like some Metal Blade band circa 1984, and it’s hard not to like, even in rough demo form. The three songs here made it onto the band’s first album, and they’ve been flying the traditional heavy metal flag ever since. Skullview has a dark gothic vibe before gothic meant “Nightwish” and that sort of junk, and while it’s nothing original, their hearts are clearly in it for life, and the relative complexity of the arrangements ensures multiple listens. There’s no mistaking it for any other band: Skullview manage a sound of their own despite originating from a place of total elder gods worship. I’m sure we’d all have a blast together cranking up some Medieval Steel and Gotham City records while slamming down some beers, so yeah, I’m on Skullview’s side for sure.
— Friar Wagner