IN ARKADIA, Regurgitate (2012, self-released)

The skull:
You know that 3D novelty sticker image people put on the rear window of their car, the one that makes it appear as if a baseball is lodged in the window, with a cobweb of cracks around it? Well, Big Dumb Skulls have jumped on the bandwagon, and with the partnership of In Arkadia, and as long as the Council of the Elders of the Skull approve the marketing budget, we should have our Big Dumb Window Skull on the market by early 2015.

The music:
Thank god this digital single is a mere two songs long, clocking in for a cozy total of 8:36, because I don’t think I can take much more groove-steeped melodic deathcore. By now it’s been co-opted, slaughtered, over-baked and stripped of all goodness by thousands of bands in the last 10 years. And really, it was never a good idea in the first place, so take a bad idea and make it worse? Yeah, good plan, everybody. Good plan. “Regurgitate”? No kidding. We hereby withdraw our partnership with you from Big Dumb Window Skull, Inc.™
— Friar Wagner


BONE SICKNESS, Bone Sickness (2010, demo)

The skull:
There isn’t much to say about this skull except to note that the sickness in question seems to cause cracking and fissures in an infected skull. A tough break, for sure. What most tickles me about this cover is the efficiency with which they reused the N and E in their logo. No sense wasting the ink on two Ns and two Es, when one each will suffice. Clearly these anarcho-punks are of the enviro- sort. If only they could have found a way to cut down on the Ss.

The music:
This here’s some rehearsal room d-beat death metal that sounds like someone trying to reverse engineer Amebix from the first Bolt Thrower album. As crusty stuff goes, it’s very well written, but it’s hard to listen to anything so shitty sounding. Hard for me, at least — this demo has been reissued twice, on cassette and 7″ vinyl, so I guess the fidelity is sufficiently high for at least a few hundred die-hards. Do you think Hellbastard sold out when they released a full length album? Do you own at least five bands that start with Dis-? Have you ever stencilled anything in white out on your leather jacket? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need this shit. Like, right away!
— Friar Johnsen


ATANAB, Black Magic  (2010, Mighty Hordes Productions)

The skull:
Originally released by some other label in 2006 with a non-skull cover, Mighty Hordes put
that wrong to right and reissued this album with a skull cover. It’s a pretty okay one too, a
fairly crude drawing that is nonetheless effective. The skull is hooded, and the skull
is in rough shape: a vertical crack from forehead to nose, and a lower right eye
that shows the bone deteriorating in a kind of unzipping sort of pattern. There’s even a fuzzy-looking root or strand of fungus hanging off his left jaw. This skull has either been the victim of some pretty rad black magic, or he’s in bad need of some ASAP.

The music:
This Colombian band plays black metal that sounds like Marduk doing covers of ’80s era
speed/black/thrash metal bands. So yeah, it’s fast, the vocals are exclusively vicious, and
there are some riffs here, but there’s nothing remarkable about it. Perhaps I’m showing my
age when almost none of these newer skull-loving black/death/thrash metal bands sound impressive to these ears. Hardly any of them bring any sort of unique personality to their music — just retreads of recycled ideas of things that have been done many times before. Nothing stands out on Black Magic, but I guess when you’re calling your album Black Magic and slapping a skull on the cover, originality is not the idea.
— Friar Wagner