VIRAL LOAD, Bashed Fucking Skull (1997, demo)
My uncle has always been an early adopter type. Whatever was the hot new gadget, he got it, and made the most out of it. In the early days of PCs, he was fond of a program called Print Shop. It was a primitive graphics package primarily used to create greeting cards and flyers for bake sales and other ephemera. Early versions were, of course, monochrome and designed for use with dot matrix printers. Anyway, we would often get birthday cards or whatnot created in Print Shop, in all their stock graphics glory. You couldn’t do a lot with Print Shop, and Photo Shop it most certainly wasn’t, and pretty quickly a seasoned user of the software would find himself creating basically the same images as everyone else, because basically you had no choice. Print Shop lived on through the early days of color inkjet printers, but it eventually proved so limiting (and its output so ghastly) that it faded into the mists of pre-internet legend. But I guess at least one person was still using it in 1997, because this cover, with its plastic images, the corny squished skulls on the back of the J-card, the bizarre phantasmagoria of a background, the shitty extruded font, etc., could only have been made in Print Shop. I applaud that last, lonely user, who in his DIY zeal to get his music heard, conceived and delivered unto this world a Big Dumb Skull as gloriously stupid as this. The world is unlikely to see finer in these late technodystopian days.
Oh man, I am totally psyched for this. Eastern European heavy metal at its finest. Lemme just cue this up and hit play… Uh. Wait. There must be some mistake. This doesn’t appear to be the decades-late Croatian answer to Tygers of Pan Tang. This is some kind of shitty brutal death metal? With a drum machine? What the fuck? Now the cover doesn’t make sense AT ALL. This is the sort of idiot gore metal that demands a cover of, I dunno, lacerated tits or something. Something that combines pimply misogyny with a ton of blood. This cover isn’t going to offend anyone (except those last few old ladies still clutching their pearls at swear words) and it utterly fails to represent Viral Load honestly. Then again, if you really knew what you were in for, you’d never listen to this, so maybe the Trojan Horse strategy was a wise one. Sucker people in with the promise of totally unironic metal and then when they least expect it, BAM, you hit them with your half-assed Skinless worship. That’s almost certainly giving Viral Load too much credit for cleverness, but literally nothing else could possibly explain the marriage of this music and this cover. It’s a fucked-up world, though.
— Friar Johnsen