Rock Queen Reviews - Rise Of The Skeleton Army

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Dead Alive – ‘Rise Of The Skeleton Army’

Risen out of the dark heart of Nashville, Tennessee, The Skeleton Army comes to you, in the form of a sinister quartet, known as Count Scapula (vocals), Manthing (guitars), Soultaker (guitars) and V (drums). Birthed by the necromancer, Thanatyx, they rose from the grave, to bring darkness, rage and thrash metal mayhem to the world. Years later, the line-up was complete.

Influenced by classic metal, such as Slayer, Death, Black Sabbath, Darkthrone and Cannibal Corpse, DA combines those sounds with extremity and raging aggression. ‘ROTSA’ is their debut album, launched this year.

The album’s also inspired by classic horror films, with a particular reference to skeletons. Additionally, it has some references to Pieter Bruegel’s painting, ‘Triumph Of Death’. Aside from its main thrash/death focus, ‘ROTSA’ touches on doom, anthemic metal, black metal and groove, with Halloween themes.

Produced by Count Scapula. Recorded and mastered by Eliot Virula, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Rise – Introing with a classic oration, Anthrax style, then straight into a sinister, pacey melody. Loaded riffs, drums a little tinny and shallow, light on volume, lacking fullness of sound. Rhythmic enough, though. Those few cymbal hits were better. Carrying it on, with more riffage and returning to the opening oration. Standard stuff, so far. The Slayer influence is audible, though.

Prepare For The Skeleton War – A rough fade-in, leading into very Priest-esque vocals. More shouted than sung, but it’s a good effort, with plenty of shredding, to support it and some very welcome whammy and vibrato touches. Certainly as darkened as claimed. Just not quite feeling it, somehow, but melodically, it’s sound enough. It really just needs to grow that sound into something bigger. Ending a bit too abruptly, but the vocals do strive to convey the effort made.

Triumph Of The Dead – Good riff intro! Quite Motorhead-esque. Still, those drums are sounding a little bit muffled. Pace-wise, it’s good, delivering a traditional speed thrash rhythm. Incorporating more of that Slayer-esque sound. Here, the vocals are more melodic, mingling with spoken sections, well narrated, with obvious passion. It is noticeably derivative, but you certainly can’t fault those influences. Picking it up, a bit more, it ends cohesively and again, the sound just needs building.

Gravestoned – Good strong, deep, down tuned, Sabbath-esque intro. Very dark and notably blackened. Now combining death, doom and dark, melodic vocal styles, making for a very Nick Cave-esque sound. Throwing in a ragged, edgy extreme vocal, now, taking it into Carcass-esque territory. If they were jamming with Nick Cave and Sab. Some decent riff styles, especially in the tremolo/vibrato sections. A better closing arrangement.

No Rest In Peace – A brief voice-over, replaced with good, heavy, doom riffs and stomping cymbals and drum rhythms, suddenly racing into a speed section. As low and shallow sounding as those drums are, they do sustain the beat well. They do need to inflate the sound, though. Black metal vocals repeat the chorus. It’s a decent, fast pace. Liking that sharp, Slayer-esque riff, at the mid-section). Lyrically, it’s quite repetitive, but the general sound and emphasis grows bigger, towards the end, further emphasised by that Funeral March section.

Deadites – Eerie intro. That sinister snarl’s actually scary, as is the evil laughter accompanying the spoken word lyrics. Now, the tempo of the tone takes it into classic gothic comedy horror realms. Lyrically, it’s as comedic as it is spooky. Especially in the chorus. Sustaining a decent melody, punctuated by sharpened riff peaks and more, cacophonous, evil laughter, resonant of Anthrax’s ‘Madhouse’ and Sabbath’s ‘Am I Going Insane’. The laughter fades it out.

Army Of Darkness – Good, racy cymbal intro! That’s where it hits the flow). Drums performing well, with some very decent rolls. Again, they do need to build the sound and volume. Riffs adding slightly more creativity. Pace increasing, some more. This track’s more centred around the rhythm. Good, inventive, siren riffage. Lyrical darkness blackens the atmosphere, further. Speeding to an end.

Spooky Scary Skeletons – A closely compressed intro, with purposely flattened riff tones and more Carcass-esque vocals. This time, merging them with clear, spoken ones. Riffs climbing higher, up to the peaks. Another speeding pace. Very brief and have to say, I wanted more.

Overall – Not at all bad, for a debut, ‘ROTSA’ makes a notable effort, conveying clear passion. It does, however, need improvement, mainly in the drumming and production areas, both of which need boosting, to reach their full potential. Generally, it’s just a bit derivative, so greater focus on moving away from other influences and crafting their own signature sound would create improvement. Other than that, a decent filler, with good potential.

7/10 *******

For fans of Slayer, Anthrax, Black Sabbath, Nick Cave, Carcass, Skeletonwitch.