"Occult Spawned Premonitions"

By Earthdog

Death, doom, sludge, stoner, grind, black, occult horror metal band... does that cover all the bases? Honestly, I don't think I have seen a band given as many tags as Skeletal Spectre. Doom metal to some people and a kind of death metal, slow grindcore band to others, the truth is they cross over all these genres but personally I put them into the Acid Witch/Hooded Menace group of occult-driven death-doom bands. Skeletal Spectre are pure old-school in the death department with a sound and style you can trace back to early Entombed and Dismember records. However, those bands never sounded so blood-curdling, nor did they have an atmosphere like this which is like something out of a 1950's Hammer horror movie. Rogga Johansson, who has taken the name of Behold The Pentagram for this project seems to be the main driving force behind these tracks, musically speaking. The standout attraction with this band, though, is Vanessa Nocera; the wife of Billy Nocera and member of other Razorback Records bands Scaremaker and the incredible Wooden Stake.

With Wooden Stake I have talked about her unnerving, spoken word style that is as captivating as it is chilling. On this album, she gives only a small dose of that ,preferring to unleashed another side of her vocal skills, the possessed, insane demonic growl that makes Angela Gossow sound like a Sunday-school teacher, Well, not quite ,but Vanessa's vocals have a mystical charm that Gossow could only dream of having. Vanessa Nocera's vocals are enticing, magnetic, seductive and it gives 'Occult Spawned Premonitions' some much-needed charisma. See ,musically ,this is pretty ordinary and kind of "garden-variety" death-doom metal and there are tons of bands doing this days and they are all doing it the same way.

Skeletal Spectre set themselves apart with Vanessa's vocals and the heavy occult / horror vibe which at least makes this all good cheesy fun and that was all missing from their 'Tomb Coven' released in 2009. While this album sounds like a slightly more serious musical endeavor than that one (not by much ,though), this album is stronger due to the vocals and better, more memorable songs. Tunes are more infectious this time around but like most bands that play this style, the fun wears off by the halfway mark in the album and everything begins to sound too familiar and predictable.

Tracks like the opening 'Scalped,' 'Master of the Muck,' and 'Untimely Tomb' stumble along like a wounded dinosaurs and even when engaged in mid-tempo, it still has the energy of a sloth. I don't think I have ever heard a band that can make mid-tempo drumming sound so slow. 'Sekhmet Prowls the Azure Night' is one of the album's more interesting tracks, it has a haunting refrain that is instantly memorable. The epic track that closes the album is also classic death-doom nostalgia at its best, titled 'Domain of the Fleshless Ones' this makes worth sitting through the entire album for. It is ghoulish pulverizing death-doom and a major highlight. The problem is ,this style is getting all too generic these days... one look at the album art and lyrics and you can conjure up in your mind what it's going to sound like and 99% of the time you will be exactly right. This album suffers from that predictability factor but also delivers the doomy, deathly goods in other ways.

Fans of Hooded Menace, Acid Witch, Black Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Entombed, Dismember, Decrepitaph and even early Bolt Thrower will find this entertaining, spooky, irresistable head-banging fun. The guitar sound is raw and heavy, vocals like I already mentioned are the albums real saving grace, without them this album would quickly be gathering dust in my CD collection. The drums suffer the same fate as a lot of bands on the Razorback label and that is they are buried and sound more like a wet-sponge. They are still there but if this had a huge, powerful drum sound - albums like this one would be essential listening. As it is, I find the first three tracks to be excellent samples of death-doom, the middle section of the album is where things get a little dull and repetitive but it picks up again for the album closing monster cut. Skeletal Spectre's "Occult Spawned Premonitions" is an album that will please many but I would highly recommend you listen to it first before buying...............7.5/10