Skull Collector – Depravity Indulged Through Fresh Corporal Parts

I stubbornly refuse to believe that the guys in Skull Collector are from Belgium. Based on the style of brutal death this four-piece plays, they clearly hail from Colombia, not eastern Europe. The music here is just too raw and savage to resemble the polished, groovy death metal of their Dutch brothers to the north, nor does it have the grinding aspects of fellow French heshers in the southwest, or even the subtle melodic sensibilities of the Germans to the east. No, these guys have to come from the depths of South America, where the gore-fueled madness is performed in tiny, smoky bars and recorded on decrepit four-track, and everything seems to move a little too fast, or much too slow, or more complex where it should be simple, or any other things that shouldn’t be but are…

The demented, ultra-oldschool cover art tells the whole story. Primitive, raw, ferocious: these are the words that define Skull Collector on their sophomore LP, ‘Depravity Indulged Through Fresh Corporal Parts’. This is like Nunslaughter minus the punk bounce and plus a few buckets of gore: I wouldn’t quite describe the musical style as oldschool, but it’s most certainly not modern either. This album is the antithesis of cleanliness in any way: every aspect of it seems just slightly off-kilter, once again like the Colombian brutal death metal bands that I know and love. Hell, these guys seem like the faster, slightly more traditional, slamless brother of Carnivore Diprosopus on their ‘Filled My Stomach With A Pregnant’s Corpse’ LP: they play similarly filthy, guttural, deranged styles of death metal with an emphasis on what amounts to punishing the listener with pure, unadulterated brutality.

The production reminds me greatly of early Mortician: slightly muddy, with indistinct guitar lines and slightly buried vocals. The drums are probably the loudest thing here, with a seemingly cheap and rickety kit tearing through what ‘should’ be with overly loud hi-hats and low dynamic sensibility. There are song structures present, but they get reduced to near incoherency as each band member keeps speeding up or slowing down, orbiting around the manic, frantic drum performance of Mark Van De Velde, which increases and decreases in volume, each track seeming to take every bit of his stamina out of him by its end. The tempo of the LP is overall very fast, almost too fast for the band members, who careen just barely out of control through the nine tracks of this album not unlike early Cryptopsy: the fastest member sets the pace, and it’s up to everyone else to keep up.

Like another Colombian contemporary, Amputated Genitals, the band seems to delight in packing tiny flourishes of technicality into the streams of seemingly average (or less) technical skill. Small cymbal runs and fills or the occasional bizarre burst of lead guitar show that the band knows more than they normally let on, and yet most of the music has that loose quality of the South American artists. This is not a particularly riff-based album: most of the emphasis is on that core sound, much noisier than your average death metal band, bound together with the alternating high/low vocal performance of Kurt Straetemans. This really sounds like a four-piece: there’s a sort of thinness and single-mindedness to the riffing that shows it’s all the mind of a single person. I wouldn’t say the songs are particularly memorable; most of them sound the same, only becoming something that sticks out in your mind during the rare moment when the band slows the fuck down for a moment, such as on the opening and closing of ‘To Mince, Cleave And Cut’, which almost makes one think of Suffocation ala ‘Thrones Of Blood’. Without the significantly more scholarly leanings, of course.

This isn’t music that’s really meant to be listened to and enjoyed on recording. The noise is enjoyable in a different way: more in the pace of its delivery than what it’s really delivering. I find the frantic, messy assault of this style to be incredibly enjoyable, and I’m sure it would be an absolute fucking blast to see live. It’s music for a pretty narrow branch of listeners, even among brutal death. You have to get used to the slight sloppiness, the overly thick production, the fact that it’s really not music about songwriting at all. But for those of us that have worn out our copies of ‘Hacked Up For Barbecue’, ‘Garavito’s Pedophilia Tales’ or ‘Perverse With The Dead’, this should get on your shelf immediately. Brutal death only for the truly sick.

(Originally written for http://www.vampire-magazine.com)

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~ by noktorn on August 9, 2007.

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