Skinless – Savagery (Review)

SkinlessSkinless are a death metal band from the US and this is their sixth album.

This is the follow up to 2015’s highly enjoyable Only the Ruthless Remain. Okay, so let’s get the obvious out of the way first – Savagery is an album which is appropriately named. As I say, an obvious observation, I know, but fitting given the circumstances. This is blatant, unsubtle music for smashing skulls to.

Skinless know their trade well, and Savagery is no exception. This is heavy, ugly death metal that’s as brutal as you’d hope for from a band of this stature. Skinless have always been adept at wrapping up this brutality in some very memorable riffs, and manage to write songs that actually have some catchy barbed hooks in them too. This is one of the reasons why the band have managed to slice and dice their way to the tops of the death metal killing arenas, rather than languishing in the basements.

Yes, Skinless are very good at what they do. The songs on Savagery show instant character and appeal, while also retaining some depth of delivery that draws you back to them after the initial bloodshed has grown cold. Every Skinless album offers something a little different, and Savagery offers a good mix of the band’s more recent offerings, with a decent array of their older influences thrown in for good measure.

Huge slamming riffs and crushing chugging guitars are occasionally augmented by eerie melodies or technical flourishes. The result is devastating, as ferocious blast beats and punishing grooves knock you to the floor and the guttural growls of the singer devour you completely.

Actually, returning to one of my initial comments about this being unsubtle music – although this is true for the most part, there has been a certain subtlety and nuance to some of Skinless’ work over the years, which is one of the reasons they’ve managed to stand out from the pack. These elements have been almost entirely absent from some of their albums, of course, (such as the ultra-merciless Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead from 2006). Savagery does have some of these parts, however, with macabre nuance appearing here and there in the melodies, or the atmosphere of the sinister, Avulsed-style instrumental Reversal of Fortune, or the soft introduction to Cruel Blade of the Guillotine. Other ideas appear too, such as the isolated bass parts on Siege Engine, or the occasional shouted vocals that appear, for example.

Well-written and well-delivered, Savagery is one of the finer brutal death metal album’s that you’ll hear this year.

Oh, and make sure you get the version with the bonus track on, as there’s a ripping cover version of Crowbar’s High Rate Extinction. Fantastic stuff.

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