SKULL FIST– “Paid In Full”

By Colonel Angus

Canada has produced some of my favorite power trios starting with RUSH and TRIUMPH but also including EXCITER and FRANK MARINO. There must be something in the water up in the Northern region. SKULL FIST is a band that has not come across my radar but after having the likes of “Paid In Full” make its way onto my desk, it is another trio that I will have to add to my metal rotation. This is their 4th full length release and it is a no frills metal classic. There is nothing new here but it is played with such conviction that there is a real charm to the whole album.

Right off the bat, the record starts off with a chugging riff that will have you raising your fist and screaming the chorus. Things speed up a bit for “Long Live The Fist” where leader Zach Slaughter’s singing reminds me of Klaus Meine in places. There are also some IRON MAIDEN-esque passages here to give it a sense of familiarity. “Crush, Kill, Destroy” settles back into more of a riffing groove that still has all the catchy melody but with a hard edge. Some acoustic guitars usher in “Blackout” but before you can blink, it barges in with some fast riffing and reminds me again of the SCORPIONS (and not just because of the title). It has that fast style that the SCORPIONS used to incorporate into their albums like “Blackout” and “Love At First Sting”. Things slow down for “Madman” but the guitar work is no less potent. The vocal again remind me of Meine and although there are these similarities, there are other areas of his voice that sound unique.

The last 3 tracks are all faster metal tunes that are similar to the earlier tracks. This is not a long disk but SKULL FIST manage to jam pack these 8 tracks with enough riffing for twice that. As mentioned earlier, this is a no frills metal album that packs a punch and leaves you wanting more. I have been seeing a trend or many releases coming out that are not super long but instead remove all the filler material and just present you with the best of the best. “Paid In Full” follows that mantra without wasting your time with sub-par material.

There is something about power trio that makes the music more intense. It might be the realization that the 3 of them have to fill up the sound that would normally be handled by 4 or 5 members but the guys in SKULL FIST really up the ante. Zach Slaughter is the guitarist/vocalist and he makes the most of both. His riffing is both melodic and intense but while his vocals bear a slight resemblance to Meine, he still has enough of his own character to make it unique. Casey Guest (bass) and JJ Tartaglia (drums) put in quite the performance as well adding little extra elements here and there to remind the listener that they are not mere sidemen. After being acquainted to “Paid In Full”, I not will proudly add SKULL FIST to my list of favorite Canadian power trios.