SKULL110

THUNDERBOLT, Inhuman Ritual Massmurder  (2004, Agonia)

The skull:
This one is very cool. The skull looks as if it’s embedded in a layer of sedimentary cave rock, thrown down by the gods as the earth’s crust was still molten and pliable, creating the traces of motion that appear on either side of the skull. The color of dried blood on the cranium suggests this was indeed a violently rendered death, the possessor of this skull presumably dying as fast as he lived.

The music:
It’s probably unintentional, but this Polish band sounds like super-fast melodic Swede-death circa 1995 — the good stuff like Sacramentum and Dissection — taken and then satanized to an even more extreme degree,¬† sped up so severely that it almost runs off the tracks. Or maybe just think of a melodic Marduk. In any case, this stuff is plain old shit-your-pants intense black metal, so well done that it’s hard not to appreciate, even if a whole album of this stuff gets incredibly boring near or even before the halfway mark. They broke up one album after this one, and although I’m not sure why, I imagine it would get difficult to top what they’re doing here. And they sure give Incantation a challenge when it comes to ridiculously evil-sounding song titles: “Everlasting Infernal Puissance” and “Impious Bewitchments of Aberration.”
— Friar Wagner

SKULL80

SUBHUMAN, Delirio No. 1  (2005, demo)

The skull:
You can’t really lose copping an H.R. Giger painting for your album cover. From ELP to Celtic Frost, bands have made good use of it. I even remember Argentinian band Vibrion snagging a detail from an H.R. Giger cover and making it their own. And there are many others. So, of course this cover is amazing. A grinning, or more likely mouth-raped skull is having something forced into its maw, a gun or something phallic, or something approximating either. Fun for the viewer to decipher and interpret! The skull sits amongst a typically Giger-esque world of bluish gray, in what looks like a gargantuan wall of syringes and machinery, largely symmetrical and absolutely mammoth in scope.

The music:
On the surface, this band should be amazing. An H.R. Giger cover, the good taste to Subhuman-ize Faith No More’s excellent “Surprise! You’re Dead!!!,” and the Coroner-ish first minutes of “Il Vecchio Bastardo.” But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that most of the rest of the music does not live up to the cover. While this demo has its moments, it loses itself chasing its tail in a bland near-Meshuggah sort of chunka-chunka death/thrash uber-aggro throwdown. There’s something inspired boiling under the surface, and there are some great guitar leads here, but otherwise it’s probably a good thing it’s a demo, because it sounds and acts like one. Maybe the two albums they have released since capitalize on whatever potential is here? Go check it out and get back to me on that, okay?
— Friar Wagner