GIGANTOR, The Damage is Done! (2009, self-released)
Now this is what we’re talking about: the very epitome of the Big Dumb Skull. It is big. It is dumb. It is a skull. Nothing fancy needed or wanted. Elaborate skulls — leave the hall!!! Making it even dumber, and therefore more attractive to the Council of the Elders of the Skull, the BDS on this album cover has no direct link to the title of the work. Although, if we use just a few extra brain cells this morning, we understand that a human head stripped of flesh and all other vestiges of life communicates the universal truth that, indeed, death is not pretty, death is final, and, yes indeed, the damage is done. There’s no coming back. Nicely played, Gigantor. You got what you wanted: entry into the Hall of Skulls. Welcome.
Well, here we go, more rehash thrash, this time from Indonesia, and really, it’s a fairly scrappy affair that should be fiercer and tighter for the sort of thing they’re going for. They’re obviously attempting a melding of early breakneck stuff like Exciter and Anthrax and the more technical, riff-tastic workouts of the Bay Area approach. The energy might be there and the intent laudable, but the vocalist is like a weak Joey Belladonna imitation with very little character or aggression. The riffs are by-the-numbers, and while some of the leads are admirably cutthroat, there’s very little of interest backing them up. Forgettable re-thrash. The damage was done years ago by bands much better than this, and Gigantor’s sound is not as huge and formidable as their name suggests. They wear Venom, Exodus and Hirax shirts. You’ve seen and heard it all before, but then maybe that’s the idea. Four songs long, including the superbly titled “Squinting Bitch.”
— Friar Wagner
BLOODRIDE, Promo 2007 (2007, demo)
These Finns are wholly dedicted to the skull. Of their five various releases, four feature some form of skull. The Supreme Predator “single” features a sabertooth skull; amongst the various animal skulls we see here at BDSHQ, it’s one of the most popular animal variations (second only to the longhorn steer). Bloodride have done their part for human skull covers too, which is why the Council, in a rare bout of generosity, have allowed two Bloodride entries into the hallowed Skullection (309 was the first). This one puts the BIG in Big Dumb Skull: we barely see the left eye socket, and there’s no dental work showing, but we know it’s a skull, there can be no doubt of it! The colors make it feel sorta Christmas-y. Just in time, boys! The image is broken into four sections, which is curious, and makes me wonder if this is a closeup of one of the band members’ custom kitchen tile pattern. If so, I need that tile-setter’s number, now.
Friar Johnsen went into greater detail on Bloodride’s sound in his earlier review of the band’s Crowned in Hell album, and I can only reprint his views here: “The sound of thrash that’s been reverse-engineered by death metal kids after they hear Bonded By Blood,” sayeth the good Friar. I cannot put it any better than that. It’s all capably delivered, which is no surprise considering these boys are Finnish. Still, who listens to this sort of thing? Adding to the annoyance of Bloodride’s approach are the guitars, which are chunked out in a way that Machine Head fans could relate to. Compositionally these three songs are similar to the kind of early ’90s fourth-rate demo-level Sepultura wanna-bes that you’d hear a lot back then, or if you can image a hipster-metal/modern aggro version of Acrophet. See? Not at all worth your while.
— Friar Wagner