MAKE, Trephine (2011, self-released)

The skull:
Fun fact of the day: a trephine is the saw used to cut a hole in a skull for surgery. This skull looks like the sort of thing that turns up in a museum as an example of prehistoric brain surgery, probably accomplished with a sharpened piece of volcanic glass. Which is to say: no trephine was involved (probably). Still, it’s a nice skull, and an impressive skull-hole, and the white-on-white design is one we rarely encounter here at Skull HQ, so I’ll award points for the cleanliness of the composition. The skull could be bigger though. Just sayin’.

The music:
Spacey, atmospheric stoner doom, you might call this. I’m reminded in places of the more ambient passages from Mastodon’s Crack the Skye, but I’m sure Make also spends a lot of time listening to the droning sounds of early 00s post-metal. They’re just not as abrasive as Neurosis or Isis or their ilk. The mood of the album is somewhat undone by the generic, rasping vocal delivery, and the clean vocals are hardly an improvement. (The bassist and guitarist are both credited with vocals, but it sounds like one guy is more like the hype man than a proper co-singer.) The reverb-drenched tremolo sections, which would fit on a Deafheaven album, are overdone, but when the band sticks to big riffs and classic Sabbath-inspired doom, they do occasionally get something of a groove going (“Surrounded by Silent Lies” stands out on this count). This is well done stuff, but it’s way too much of the same thing over and over again. The album is an hour long, but it feels longer. Post-doom is not my thing, and for all I know, it’s not a “thing” at all, but these days, pretty much everything has been “post”ed, and I don’t see why doom should be left out. If posty things are to your liking, and you like your metal slow, smoldering, and echoey, then Make might do you right.
— Friar Johnsen


BOARDERS, Rust of 99  (1999, self-released)

The skull:
This poor thing. Bleached white and lonely, with an elongated cranium that’s getting into John Merrick territory. He looks sad and worried. But his teeth are in great shape. Another of those last-minute, totally uncreative skull covers that seems to have absolutely no purpose other than filling up space.

The music:
Boarders also doubles as a Megadeth tribute band and they probably do okay with that in their Italian homeland. Their original material is along the lines of Megadeth’s Countdown to Extinction and Youthanasia, the clean, streamlined stuff, but this covers EP shows a slightly rawer Boarders (are they skateboarders?). You get covers of Helloween, Megadeth, Metallica (a cool choice of “Escape”), AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Testament songs. Competently performed with no big surprises, although the vocals are uniformly terrible. Oh, and there’s a drum solo tacked onto the end. You’ll do without this one just fine.
— Friar Wagner