CHRISTER PETTERSSON, Play Fast (2012, demo)

The skull:
This probably would have looked pretty cool drawn on the underside of a skateboard in sharpie in 1986. As big dumb skulls go, well, he’s big and he’s incredibly, almost impossibly dumb, but it’s hard to get too worked up about something obviously drawn by a kid. We can be mean here at Skull HQ, but it’s not our intention to make children cry. Usually.

The music:
This is blazing fast grind that sounds like it was derived from punk and not death metal, which is to say it doesn’t take itself too seriously and isn’t too good. But grind is never my thing, no matter the minor variations. The film samples they include are fairly amusing at least. The historical Christer Pettersson was a a suspect in the killing of Sweden’s prime minister in the mid 80s, but his conviction was later overturned. I have no idea what are the politics inherent in naming your band after this guy, but I’m sure it all means more to a Swede than to me. Anyway, if you love both grind and crust, then maybe you’ll like this. It doesn’t sound horrible as these things go. But I’ll never be able to say anything too intelligent about this style of music, because I just can’t bring myself to care.
— Friar Johnsen


CURARE, Zeit (2000, self-released)

The skull:
The deep scratches made in a wall barely covered in peeling paint, plus the feverishly scribbled title (which means “Time”) are nearly enough to suggest a truly grim vision of a long-incarcerated prisoner clutching at the last straws of his sanity. But then there’s that stupid skull, which was clearly painted over top of the scratching, making it clear that this grim prison was shuttered for years before it was opened as some kind of vaguely historical tourist destination, and in which some asshole teen on a field trip managed to break away from the class long enough to stencil in spray paint the rad skull he designed for the skateboarding company he’s going to start just as soon as he gets his fucking degree, man. The desperate etchings of a broken man wiped out by the callous vandalism of some punk: same as it ever was.

The music:
This is vaguely industrial-sounding groove metal sung in German, which in my world means Curare are a Rammstein knockoff, even if I can objectively note that Curare are at a minimum more metal. They’re definitely boring, though. The real bitch is that this almost sounds like it could have been good. Their better riffs aren’t a million miles removed from, say, Pitch Shifter in the early 90s, but they’re just off enough to be totally dull. For starters, they don’t capture the sociopathic bleakness that was encoded in everything Pitch Shifter did (before that remix EP that signaled the end of all good things.) And then the singer in Curare sounds less like an angry anarchist and more like a guy who’s just trying to get the party started, or at least trying to impress girls with dyed black hair and Siouxsie Sioux eye makeup. At their most keyboardy, Curare sound a little like Rabies-era Skinny Puppy, which is just another strike against them. We don’t cover a lot of industrial metal here at Skull HQ, and as with most of what we come across, Curare aren’t totally awful, and if this sort of thing is literally all you listen to, then maybe you’d even like them, but I think it’s a lot more likely you just wouldn’t totally hate them.
—Friar Johnsen


SLEEPING WITH A CORPSE, Get Fucked (2008, demo)

The skull:
This looks like artschool fuckwad graffiti from some tenth rate Banksy wannabe, except for the logo, which looks like literally thousands of other shitty metalcore logos. The odd choice of spot colors is at least something different, and I applaud the bigness and dumbness of this skull, but that’s it. This could be the AIGA symbol for “Warning: Shitty Music”.

The music:
Man, I fucking hate this sort of guttural deathcore, with its bass drops and stupid slam mosh parts. Adding noodly tapping bits (as SWAC does) only makes it worse, because they’re executed so poorly and only underscore the moronic simplicity of the breakdown riffs. The song titles (like “Who Wrinkled My Randy Travis Poster” and “If You Don’t Chew Big Red Then Fuck You”) try to come off as funny, but this music is so powerfully, overwhelmingly, foundationally unamusing that the token attempts at humor only make me angrier. God damn this shitty fucking band. Depressingly, though this demo was recorded over 5 years ago and is the band’s sole release, they’re still around (or worse: back together) and working on a new demo. What a world, what a world.
— Friar Johnsen