Album Review: Skullcrush – Archaic Towers Of Annihilation 7 (Death Metal)

Guest review by Ian of Sleeping Village Reviews

  • Skullcrush
  • Archaic Towers Of Annihilation
  • Death Metal/OSDM
  • Arizona USA
  • December 13th, 2019
  • 7/10

There are few things in my maladroit passage through life as recognizable, or dare I say addictive, as that sweet swedeath guitar tone. Muffled and thick, the pure encapsulation and distillation of sonic headbangable heft. 2019 certainly offered an abundance of riffs that fit said bill–however, it’s a sound that, when executed with a modicum of technical prowess, seldom gets old. When Skullcrush came out of the December gate a tad unnoticed with Archaic Towers Of Annihilation, a worthy album unfortunately birthed in the months o’ lists, they certainly delivered in the prowess department. In short? Throw on your gym outfit of choice and lace up them sneakers (or joggers, as may apply.) It’s time to get sweaty.  

Artwork by Raul Gonzalez

Across the breadth, the reliance on a single churning riff to carry the day is minimal–indeed, Skullcrush‘s riffcraft is a decidedly labyrinthian affair. Ripping, twisting, and undulating from one seemingly central motif to another with nary a backward glance, this is a prime example of how a genre based so strongly in the particular sound of the guitar need not stagnate in derivaty. Unlike, say, Vastum on their latest, Skullcrush are well on their way to writing a death metal record that feels fresh and utterly unpredictable across its runtime. Like, however, Gatecreeper‘s Deserted, the willingness to slow things down and take the doomy road less travelled is profound. Exactly the twisted amalgamation of genre expectation that OSDM needs at this point in time.

I certainly don’t want to tell you how or where to consume your death metal, but for this lost and world-weary scribe, Archaic Towers Of Annihilation is an album unapologetically built for the gym. Or running path. Or…other athletic venue. Whatever. I for one have leaned on this album mightily in the gruntiest of times, whether crushing cardio with the benefit of thunderous tempo and rolling percussion, or lifting under the influence of Skullcrush‘s doomier leanings. For the former, see the relentless onslaught that is “Nightmares for the Blind”; for the latter, see the lurching sasquatchian presence of “Buried and Forgotten.” Both prime examples of a particular sound, but realistically not highlights. On an album of decidedly No Bad Tracks, there are also no true standouts. So it goes.

Skullcrush on: Bandcamp / Facebook

Critically, the one-note vocals do begin to wear thin in the album’s back half. I appreciate crushing laryngatical monotony as much as the next headbanging fool, but throw me, I dunno, a distressed yelp or gravelly chant every once in a while to add a little dynamics to the delivery. Otherwise: no complaints when it comes to technique. The percussion, in particular, does a top-notch job competing with the riffage–intriguing fills and cymbal-ladden passages abound. While there are no tracks here that truly ragdoll my battered frame, the consistency across six tracks proper is noteworthy. Again: not a bad track on this beast, and the interludes, for what they are, serve their purpose well.

At risk of eschewing my typical obnoxious and pedantic approach, it’s safe to say that Skullcrush are here to, well, Crush Skulls. After all, I’m not shy in admitting that, for this particular listener, Archaic Towers Of Annihilation serves a specific sweaty purpose in a specific sweaty place. Regarding the bigger picture, Redefining Darkness and Raw Skullz Records have swiftly become some of my favorite labels on the backs of bands such as this–band delivering albums that, while not necessarily establishing high water marks, are markedly consistent in their slow march towards a modicum of forward-thinking death metal. Skullcrush are yet another prominent feather in their cap.

7/10

Guest review from Sleeping Village Reviews


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