Lille, France home to Gris De Lille, one of the most potent smelling cheeses that the French have to offer, and home to the Gaufre Fourée, a thin sandwich filled with vanilla cream. But, Lille isn’t just a haven of creamy waffles and cheese that registers on a Geiger counter, it’s also home to death metal monstrosities Skelethal, who I have the honour of reviewing today.
Skelethal play old school death metal and have been performing together since 2012. Within those eight years they’ve produced two full-lengths, the second being Unveiling The Threshold. It’s being released by the killer Hells Headbangers Records and is out now on all your favourite formats, so go on, I’ll wait; go get your grubby little mitts on it while you can.
All done? Good! Right…to the review! Unveiling The Threshold is the monstrosity that 2020 deserves. It’s close to forty minutes of crushing old school death which borrows heavily from the Swedish sound, but is lathered in a putrid atmosphere that’ll melt through your flesh and turn you into a vomit inducing sludge. It’s got a really primitive sound, which isn’t what I’d usually associate with the French death scene. Usually it’s more focused on technical prowess combined with brutality, like compatriots Benighted. That primitive sound, coupled with clever song writing, makes for a really interesting listen with tremendous replay value. I’ve been playing this to death over the past few weeks getting ready for the review and have enjoyed every bone crushing minute.
I think the clever and intriguing song writing comes from an impressive array of demo’s and EP’s being consistently released over the past eight years. Unveiling The Threshold doesn’t sound like a sophomore release. It doesn’t feel like it has that pressure of living up to their debut, or of a group trying to do too much. It sounds and feels really natural, like there a group at their prime rather than their second full-length release. This comes through especially in the riffs department, which are abundantly burly, thick and aggressive while being combined with that chainsaw sound we all love so much.
This is very much a Skelethal record. It pays homage to the godfathers of their genre, but they’ve taken that homage and drenched it in their own sordid sound…
The riffs progress and drag you along with them, acting as the pathfinder through the haunting storm that you’ll soon discover has no other side. Oh and just a quick note on the vocals, they’re so nasty and in the best way. Primarily guttural, they sound like they’re cloaked in a layer of decaying filth. They occasionally veer into this anguished scream that just tears through the madness, making itself the most prominent sound at that point in the song.
There is a huge amount of nostalgia in this record, whether it be the chainsaw worship of the Swedish HM-2 movement, the groove laden riffs from the Florida death metal scene or the precision musicianship from their local extreme music scene. The nostalgia is only part of the record though. This is very much a Skelethal record. It pays homage to the godfathers of their genre, but they’ve taken that homage and drenched it in their own sordid sound.
For a year which has seen a cacophony of wonderful death metal, this is another one to add to your list. If you didn’t follow my advice earlier to buy this record, then come on lazy bones!! Get off the sofa grab ya wallet and head over to Hells Headbangers and pick this beasty up, you will not be disappointed!
Scribed by: Matt Alexander