SKULL216

LORD HAUNTED, Bang ‘Em Till Bleed the Bone¬† (2007, demo)

The skull:
We have a winner here people. This prehistoric-looking skull appears to be a product of inbreeding. Just guessing. What an honor it must be, then, to be draped in a bullet belt and have a boot coming down on your head to try to, apparently, “bleed the bone.” And damned if the boot isn’t winning! We have here yet another demo band actually volunteering to place the parental advisory sticker on their album cover. (See also Skull210) It threatens to ruin everything, but this cover’s so awesome, not even that can diminish its greatness. So, till next time: bang ’em till bleed the bone and, uh, fist pump it till…um…till scrape the flesh.

The music:
The fact that Lord Haunted covers Manilla Road’s “Dig Me No Grave” should tell you all you need to know about their musical preferences. It’s an interesting cover choice, something from one of Manilla’s least-celebrated albums (The Courts of Chaos). The four other songs are all originals, and even if the cover art looks more like a dirty black/thrash kind of thing, this is pure epic traditional metal; none of these songs would have been out of place on any of those early Metal Massacre compilations. There’s an especially strong whiff of California’s Tyrant here, if that helps. When he’s in screaming mode, vocalist Marcos Fazzio often sounds uncannily similar to Artillery’s Flemming Ronsdorf, which is kinda cool, because you don’t hear that often. Lord Haunted is not bad, most the songs have a good bit of depth, lots of interesting parts, and the the dudes have the skills to pull it off. If the already-mentioned bands are your thing, as well as Omen, Helstar, Dio and Mercyful Fate, you could do worse. You won’t hear anything original either, but you probably weren’t expecting to.
— Friar Wagner

SKULL108

GRAVE DESECRATOR, Cult of Warfare and Darkness  (2003, Ketzer)

The skull:
Oooh, scary ritual skull. This slightly out-of-focus picture kind of looks ancient, although the bullet belt is likely circa 1985 or so. There’s also a silver pentagram that looks like it would make a bad-ass necklace charm, and the two candles burning liven up the party. The skull? He’s all “Don’t you dare steal my evil thunder, you candlestick, pentagram and bullet belt.” Looks like he’s mounted on the candle holder, which is pretty awesome. The cover itself would be a little more awesome if it weren’t an idea that you’ve seen a zillion times before. I’m guessing that the unoriginal cover idea is going to translate to the music inside…

The music:
I couldn’t be more wrong!!! Grave Desecrator play RHCP-style pop-funk, dressed up with dubstep bass throbbing and progressive folk whimsy, while hints of skronking jazz rock serve as well-placed segues. Nah, of course it’s orthodox black metal that you’ve heard a zillion times before. If you own Sarcofago’s excellent I.N.R.I., listen to that while simultaneously listening to Darkthrone’s A Blaze in the Northern Sky, and you’ll basically get Grave Desecrator. Two songs, 10 minutes, which makes the plagiarism at least tolerable.
— Friar Wagner