SHOW YOUR FACE, Unleash (2011, self-released)
When I was a kid, sometimes in the course of my roughhousing I would knock down and break one of the dozens of decorative skulls that festooned our home (and which I assume are common in most American households), on discovery of which my mother would spank me and yell, rhetorically, “Do you think skulls grow on trees?” Well, if only I had this cover to answer her with, I could have increased the severity of the beating by at least 200%!
I always think of tough-guy metalcore as being a distinctly American phenomenon, with maybe some Germans getting involved. But never Greeks! Greeks should be making weirdo black metal or cheap-sounding prog metal or maybe retro true metal. It’s what they do best! Not that Show Your Face are bad at metalcore. They’re pretty good, actually, and their vision of metalcore is for sure a lot less floofy than the American standard. There are no clean vocals (although there are a few sorta “sung” moments, but the voice remains tough), and the lyrics don’t seem to be overly concerned with the singer’s pain. Show Your Face deal with pain, but only the kind they intend to inflict on other motherfuckers. Really, “metalcore” might be a bad label, but I don’t know what else to call this sort of thing. It’s somewhere between every modern descendent of Pantera and Hatebreed, with some melodic Swedish influences thrown in for good measure (without ever going full In Flames.) It’s all very well done, but still quite boring. About the only song that really did anything for me is the brief instrumental “Minus 56,” with its odd syncopated grooves and slinky tapped guitar line. For those 2 minutes, I’m almost willing to believe that Show Your Face could grow up and our of their adolescent rage. Maybe if I were a lot younger and considerably more angry, this kind of music would appeal to me, but as it is, I have very little interest in fucking shit up these days.
— Friar Johnsen
MORBID YELL, Death Desecration (2004, demo)
Hard to gather exactly what’s happening amidst all the black and white noise, but it looks to this friar like the skull of a man who got lost hiking in a jungle and became ensnared in all manner of flora. The harder he struggled, the tighter the vines, branches and stems pulled, eventually suffocating the guy, whose face was eaten off by a band of rabid wild boars. That’s great news for the boars and Big Dumb Skulls! Crappy for the guy who wandered too far out into the wilderness, but we have it on good faith he was a deadbeat dad that deserved it.
Word on the street is that in the Spanish city of A Coruna, there existed several morbid-sounding metal bands who took similar names at the very same time. Morbid Commotion and Morbid Conniption, both now long-defunct, left the dudes in this then-unnamed band seriously frustrated. What to call their own brand of morbid metal? “Commotion” and “conniption” were both taken, and Texas band Morbid Scream had long owned that name, so it was decided, rather reluctantly, to just call it Morbid Yell and get on with business. (The recent reactivation of Chile’s Death Yell offers exciting possibilities for a seriously yelly tour package.) This is Morbid Yell’s first demo. The recording gives the music a chilling, distant quality, like it’s being communicated from several feet underground, all of it drenched in reverb while cymbals clang mercilessly in their quest to give headaches to the lot of you. This is fairly standard black/death/thrash — primitive, anguished and ugly, played by two Spanish brutes who probably think Watain are the wimpiest band in existence and that Inquisition have sold out. It’s not great, but not entirely worthless either. One thing’s for sure: this tape would have definitely landed them a deal with Wild Rags if that label was still active.
— Friar Wagner
FACESHIFT, Chokehold (2007, Black Lodge)
Classy cover. Logo and artwork bordered in rectangle and square, it’s all about an
orderly aesthetic. The skull hangs in a mist of various shades of gray, wearing an afro of dead trees. Sorta like a Chia Pet skull for the goth metal set. It’s an interesting and somewhat creative piece of art. A different sort of image from the norm we usually see ’round these parts.
From looking at the artwork, the band name, the label and the members’ origins, I assumed this would be melodic death metal. And it sorta is, just minus the death. Faceshift plays melodic metal that sounds like a mixture of latter-day Sentenced and newer Nocturnal Rites, only not as good, and with a vocalist that has absolutely no edge whatsoever. This is a single, so the only song it offers is “Chokehold.” It’s a polite stab at accessible, infectious melodic metal, but far too nice and harmless, lacking any kind of depth. Very “assembly line” in its approach and dull mid-paced momentum. This song is, in fact, so incredibly squeaky clean it’s barely metal. The dudes come from a heavier and longer-running band called Eternal Oath, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and allow them into the hallowed halls of Big Dumb Skulls. The ultimate verdict: cool artwork for a pretty weak song. Incidentally, this song also appears on their Reconcile album, which features two skulls joined by the same sort of dead trees seen on the cover of this single. Continuity, man, continuity.
— Friar Wagner