DECLAMATORY, Mental Explosion (2003, demo)
This is quite the action shot! A skull swept up in mid-explosion. Wow! It’s very exciting, isn’t it? We can’t be certain if this is a skull made from and because of the explosion, or if it was a skull already buried in the ground recently blasted to shit by a mining company in the mountains of West Virginia, or something like that. Whatever the case may be, the cover artist seemed only talented enough to convey the “explosion” part of the album title. “Mental”? This looks more like a physical explosion, if we’re splitting hairs. The artist didn’t try hard enough to get that “mental” part going. But hey, one look at this baby and you know the band were stoked enough to float it as a demo cover. “Good enough,” they said, with something approaching enthusiasm. I wonder if the music will convey similar half-assedness? We’ve seen that happen a time or two here at Big Dumb Skulls.
Well, no luck finding the music of this one, likely because it’s an earlier demo by a German band who have been pumping out demos the way Warsteiner pumps out beer. (Their fourth of five, in as many years, before they started releasing more official-ish self-released EPs and albums.) The later material is modern thrash leaning dangerously close to the metalcore precipice. Not very interesting. At all. As for Mental Explosion, it features a song called “Diary of a Swordsman,” and that falls into the “you learn something new every day” category … I wasn’t aware swordsmen kept diaries, were you? The song prior to that is called “Medial Disaster.” “Would you like that disaster in small, medium, or large?” “Medium, please.” I know it’s unkind to pick on a band who aren’t native English speakers, but lacking the actual music, it’s easy to do, and fun too! You should try it some time.
— Friar Wagner
VIOLATOR, Annihilation Process (2010, Kill Again)
We see a lot of skulls here at Big Dumb Skulls. Many are big, most are dumb, and too many of them are boring pieces of non-art. Not this one. This cover art is all kinds of interesting, throwing out a nightmare scenario that happened one day to the citizens of some unknown metropolis. The skies turned pink and purple that morning. The dude doing the crazy backflip in the foreground was just minding his own business, walking to the bus stop, when outta nowhere comes this humongous skull whipping up all kinds of frenzy. His jaw dislocates itself to reveal a reptilian tongue of tremendous length while he belches missiles. (And he’s got a flat pig nose, too.) The missles haven’t even fired yet and we’ve already got a tremendous explosion to deal with. Bodies fly, cars slip over, buildings cave in…just all kinds of trauma. Where the huge mechanical pinchers in the bottom right and the mechanical tentacles in the background come from is a whole other story, and a whole other level of hell that these citizens are dealing with.
Third Brazilian band in a row for this Friar, and one that I name-checked in the Farscape review (skull 350). I’ll throw Violator a bone and call them “actually good.” I don’t care much for these third rate re-thrash bands, but a couple of them do it so well that you have to give them a pass, and I’ll do that for Violator. Their sound is exclusively fast and frenzied, reminding of single-minded US bands of the past such as Vio-lence and Gammacide, with vocals similar to Germany’s Assassin (Violator’s background vocals sound like “Baka!!!” and “Chocomel!!!” to me…fans of Interstellar Experience will understand). Every song on this EP sounds exactly the same, but you might expect that. They seem to know their thrash history, at least their own country’s thrash history, because they cover the obscure “You’ll Come Back Before Dying” from the obscure Executer, off their obscure third demo, circa 1989. It sounds just like a Violator original.
— Friar Wagner