EMPATHY, Skulls on Fire  (2007, demo)

The skull:
We love our skulls on fire here at Big Dumb Skulls. We’ll take ’em any way we can get ’em, but there’s just something about skulls on fire. It takes an extremely high temperature to burn bone, but these skulls? They’ll take whatever punishment you dish out. [See prior Skulls 68 and 55 for more examples of flaming skulls.] This one is rendered in a neon-like glow in matching neon color. It’s not exactly threatening looking, and would be a not-very-well-though-out tattoo choice. Apparently the lines in the corners are either lightning, or cracks. Your choice! I choose lightning cracks.

The music:
A lot more intense and threatening than the album cover suggests (I expected something like Saxon here). This obscure UK band have since changed their name to the not-exactly-unique Painkiller, but here we have the original 4-song demo/EP by Empathy. The only song I was able to track down is “Burial,” but I’m going to assume the other three songs are in a similar vein. That vein? Think of the lost Kreator album that might have existed between Pleasure to Kill and Terrible Certainty. The riffs bristle with crisp energy and the vocals are dead-on Mille Petrozza circa 1986. The drumming is probably technically better than Ventor, but I like Ventor. As 1986 is my favorite Kreator/Mille era, I cannot help but give this a thumbs up, even if it does cruise by in a blaze of redundancy. But hey, we’ve all got our soft spots, and one of mine is this era of Kreator, so I’ll listen to anything that sounds like it once.
— Friar Wagner

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