by Thor

New York’s longtime kings of brutal, irreverent death metal Skinless return with a ten-track album of pulverizing heaviness fittingly called “Savagery.”

Never afraid to try new things, here Skinless play death metal typified by twinges of death-n-roll and delivered with dutifully old school aesthetics.  The sonic characteristics of “Savagery” recall the very beginning of American brutal death metal, with an overall organic warmth and fatness and more than a dollop of reverb.

Musically, things are pretty stripped down.  The guitars vacillate between chunky monstrosities and tremolo-picked speed riffs.  The drums follow suit, never going for tech wankery and always either reinforcing the slam or the speed with grooves and blast beats, respectively.  Vocally, Sherwin Webber mostly stays in guttural territory with occasional forays into grind screaming and even some primitive chanting and shouting.

The highlight of the album is a bonus track of Crowbar’s “High Rate Extinction” which can’t help but come across as dangerously heavy no matter who’s performing it.  It’s got everything to do with Kirk Windstein’s secret riff sauce, but I digress.  Unfortunately, the rest of the songs—the ones written by Skinless—are all pretty unremarkably similar to each other. 

Skinless’s “Savagery” is a solid death metal album, to be sure. However, its re-listenability is limited based on the fact that everything found therein is stuff we’ve all heard ad nauseum for the past thirty years.  It results in an album that excels in its fidelity to a bygone era as much as it lacks anything to move the needle for most longtime death metal fans.