CHRISTBAIT, Truckin’ (1994, Death Valley)
It’s like The Exploited’s skully dude, except his mohawk is a spine. Or a bony Wendy O (there’s probably another joke to be had there, but I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination). Usually we at Skull HQ prefer our skulls head-on (as it were), but this from-the-side skull is so proudly big and dumb that we’re happy to welcome him to the Skullection.
Based on this single song from a split with Dirt Clod Fight (whom I will not review), Christbait seem to have started as an industrial-inspired crust metal band, but they gradually took on some “southern” elements. They don’t seem to have gone full Eyehategod, but of course, the less New Orleans in your sound, the better. The industrial bit, at least, is of course not surprising, since they almost certainly took their name from Godflesh. The drums are live, which is a nice surprise (I expected programmed beats), and the playing is solid, sometimes even inventive. Think early Pitchshifter mixed with late 80s Amebix and a hint of southern-fried stoner bullshit (mainly in the form of some bluesy fills) and you’re in the right neighborhood. The singing is not great, mainly just yelling, but that’s typical for the crustier genres, and I can live with it, because the song is more or less okay. I might go back and check out their earlier stuff, because minus the swampy shit, this is pretty good.
— Friar Johnsen
DR. SKULL, Wory Zover (1990, ADA Müzik)
Look at that fuzzy pink mohawk. Just look at it! And the golden snake earing. And the out-of-focus band picture. And the fog. And the FROG. Then look at the mohawk again. If Big Dumb Skulls were a contest, this would probably win. Shit, no “probably” about it. This is the ne plus ultra of BDSery, the pinnacle of the form. Also, the skull’s name is Vehbi.
Although this came out in 1990 (really!) it sounds like a time capsule buried in 1982. Dr. Skull were Turkish, but they sound most like early Scandinavian bands such as Gotham City or Heavy Load, plus of course those bands’s NWOBHM contemporaries. Dr. Skull are never particularly heavy, exhibiting a strong hard rock undercurrent, but if we admit there’s a fine line between early (sounding) metal and rock, this definitely lands on the right side for us, decked out in singing guitar harmonies and huge vocal choruses with hooks aplenty. The lyrics are in English, and in fact the title of the album is a play on words, a homophone for “War Is Over”. A strong anti-war sentiment permeates the entire album (which actually opens with a metalized take on “When Johnny Comes Marching Back”), and this friar finds the band’s earnestness very endearing. The thin and cheap production perfectly suits the music and further strengthens the illusion of early 80sness that enshrouds the entire project. If you’ve tapped out the NWOBHM and have all the FWOSHM material you can afford, you could do a lot worse than tracking down a copy of this excellent little obscurity.
— Friar Johnsen