THE EVERSCATHED, …Again the Chains… (2006, demo)
This skull thought he knew the layout of his basement well enough to just float over to reset the circuit breaker in the dark, but then he got all snagged up in the chain web he forgot he was working on last week. “Oh, god damn it. Honey! HONEY! Can you grab a flashlight and come down here and help me out? No, no, I’m alright, I just… Can you just give me a hand? And watch where you’re going, it’s a real mess down here. I really gotta clean this place up. God damn it! And can you bring me a band aid or something? Now I’ve got to go get a fucking tetanus shot. This is just great.”
The instant the first track, “Shackled by Failure” starts, you know that these dudes love Death. But while most Death clones shoot for the melodic complexity of albums like Human and Symbolic, The Everscathed took the low-ambition route of following in the footsteps of Spiritual Healing, and only half of it at that, as they generally stick to the low-string and power chord riffs in Chuck’s transitional playbook and skip the high melodic lines that define the later Death albums. Both of the songs on this demo are pretty much the same in that regard. As Death knockoffs go, even considering the narrowness of their scope, The Everscathed aren’t bad, but you also quickly realize exactly how important all those tapped melodies and harmonic lines were to Death’s creative success (not to mention an ace rhythm section, which The Everscathed definitely do not have.) Without those trebly excursions, you’re left with a lot of samey-sounding riffs that aren’t nearly as evil or heavy as I think The Everscathed want them to be. As far as I can tell, all of the full length albums by the band follow more or less the same pattern, so I guess if you kinda like mid-period Death but think they were just too noodly, then maybe this is the band of your dreams.
— Friar Johnsen
DAWN OF DEMISE, Hate Takes Its Form (2007, Deepsend)
Skull with industrial haute couture mohawk: a mane of hooks, knives and various rusty
implements that look like parts of an old farm tractor, all arranged elaborately atop the bony noggin. The skull is mounted on a kind of large industrial drill bit looking thing. This is a pretty fancy skull as metal skull go, even if adorned with all this dangerous-looking machinery. The way the skull’s head is tilted, it looks as if he’s having real trouble carrying all the weight that sits on top of his cranium.
Even amongst the zillions of brutal death metal bands and albums that come and go, this
Danish band received an unusual amount of hype and praise when this album was released. That might have had something to do with the presence of ex-Infernal Torment vocalist Scott Jensen, his prior band infamous for their ridiculously depraved lyrics that made Cannibal Corpse stanzas read like a Bon Jovi hit. Basically, Dawn Of Demise has lineage that goes back to influential bands and albums in that whole gore/porn/ultra-“broodal” universe. Thus, Hate Takes It Form is mono-maniacal one-dimensional modern brutal death metal with pig grunt “bree bree shredded wheeeeat!!!” vox. Which means, as well-played and professionally-delivered as this album is, I couldn’t care less.
— Friar Wagner
MEGADETH, Killing is My Business…And Business is Good! (reissue) (2002, Loud)
This joins Devastation’s Idolatry as one of few albums to make the Skullection twice. The first goes all the way back to Skull15, where Friar Johnsen took a look at the original cover from 1985. And there’s really no beating the original, but this updated version makes some kind of sense, adding the newer and more popular Megadeth logo to a painted interpretation of the original cover concept. That concept? A metal plate riveted across the skull’s eyes and figure eight-ish hooks in mouth. The chains from the original design are here attached to big earpieces that almost look like headphones. The bones ‘n’ blades behind the skull add some sizzle to the overall design. The skull even has a couple pieces of spinal column attached, but not enough to disqualify it under the “no skeletons” rule. A pretty snazzy looking cover, the added accoutrements are nice, but the original is still where it’s at.
I guess Loud Records is some short-lived subsidiary of Capitol Records or something. And it was they who put out this reissue of Megadeth’s excellent debut. Friar Johnsen ably spoke to the importance and awesomeness of Killing… in his earlier review, and I concur 100%. Special mention needs to be made of “Looking Down the Cross,” which might be this Friar’s favorite-ever Megadeth song, but there’s a large handful of others contending for that title. This remixed version of Killing… is good, and while I prefer the wiry, thin sound of the original, the beefier, bassier mix here works pretty well too. There are a lot of sonic differences between this and the original, and if you love this album as much as we do, you’ll look for any excuse to have the thrill of buying it again. What’s frustrating is the bleeped-to-shit version of “These Boots,” which might have been better excised entirely. Even more frustrating is how they (“they” being Mustaine?) fucked with the original track order, placing “These Boots” at the end and not in position four as on the original. Extra bonus comes in the first ever official issuing of their three-song 1984 demo, a super-raw, ultra-frantic view into the band’s earliest recorded material. Like the album itself, it totally kills. They don’t make ’em like this anymore, that’s for sure.
— Friar Wagner