PRO-PAIN, Prophets of Doom  (2005, Continental)

The skull:
We here at Big Dumb Skulls forbid adding animal skulls to the Skullection. We’re looking for the human artifact only, although some skulls blur the line: human skulls with ram horns are a popular skull subset, as are human skulls that look more like primate skulls. But then, that’s to be expected, considering the close link between human and primate. So we let this one slide, partly because it’s so silly. This monkey-boy skull thing — with one very comical left ear hole — grins uncomfortably, like he’s being threatened into smiling for the portrait…as he rides a unicycle, of course. The dress hanging to his right and the assemblage of whatever-the-hell-that-is hanging to his left balance the frame, but otherwise seem to have no purpose. The mosaic tile treatment and the style of artwork itself lends a Victorian Gothic meets Vaudeville sort of aesthetic. I don’t have all the Pro-Pain album covers memorized, but I’ll bet a zillion dollars this is by far the most unlikely cover they’ve ever had, even considering the skull.

The music:
I love the Crumbsuckers’ Beast on My Back album. Surpassing their pretty decent crossover debut, B.O.M.B. is a masterpiece of complex thrash and it has aged very well (despite a cover concept that took all of 2 and a half seconds to conceive). When they folded, I had high hopes that the Crumbsuckers rhythm section, Gary Meskil and Dan Richardson, would move in a similar direction with their new band Pro-Pain. But no, they went all toughguy. Their debut, Foul Taste of Freedom, is an album of dull hardcore aggro and muscle metal rage. And they’ve been taking the low road ever since. Prophets of Doom is the ninth in a seemingly never-ending campaign to be as boring and utterly useless as possible. I even saw this band live twice, somewhere around the time of their third album, and they had zero appeal. There’s not much to say about Prophets of Doom, other than it’s aggressive and loud and shouty and all those things your parents would say about it. People who like heavy music but haven’t been exposed to more than a handful of bands might enjoy it. For anyone deeper into the metal genre, there’s literally nothing here for you. Unless unflavored knucklehead jump-metal appeals to you. I respect their longevity, and Gary’s role in the Crumbsuckers (Dan’s long been gone), but that’s about it.
— Friar Wagner