It is this bottom-feeder’s lowly opinion that creatively, the artistic world is in a dismal place. Movies? Big studios are so bereft of ideas that they’re remaking shitty movies into even shittier ones. It has been speculated that soon movie theaters will be a thing of the past, much like how the record industry died a well-deserved death. Sadly that also gave a very hard and dry ramming to the musicians who the labels were already ramming up the poop chute. Speaking of the poop chute, porn? Well, porn is as good as ever, but now it’s free and EVERYWHERE. The salacious and titillating days of cramming a bunch of pre and a few post-pubescent kids into a car and perusing the porn shops on 42nd street are long gone. Sure, in those days you’d drop a few dimes sight unseen on a VHS tape that turned out to be about as arousing as Rosie O’Donnell, but as much as convenience is a good thing, it can also lead to complacency and a lack of creativity.

Heavy metal, despite primarily being a possession of what we proudly call the underground, is not impervious to the revisionist proclivity of plucking from the past with genres like re-thrash, Even Newer Wave of British Heavy Metal, occult rock, and currently on the chopping block, retro-Swedish death. 2014’s EP, Interstellar Knowledge of the Purple Entity was my introduction proper to Skelethal and it just about made me turn my Fruit of the Looms into a fudge factory. At just 21 minutes, it was a perfect little window to the days of yore when Entombed and particularly Carnage were all. As I pondered in the comments section of my review, “…they’ve released two EPs within 8-9 months… I wonder if they are wise enough to release just a few tunes to keep things from getting overlong. Would the EP have had the same impact if it was twice the length? The world may never know.”


Now we do. The Skelethal ride is a lot of fun for a little trip down memory lane, but when it comes to the long haul it doesn’t hold up. On their first proper full-length, Of the Depths, it’s clear Skelethal are drawing too deep from the well and bringing up some of the muck at the bottom. While they certainly have the right sound and chops as good as Smith & Wollenksy’s, the riffs this time around aren’t as plague-ladenly infectious as the originators. Perhaps it’s because over recent years, and even just the three since Interstellar, a rash of bands have attempted to transcend time in similar fashion to varied success, many documented here on AMG like Narthraal, Ensnared, Sentient Horror, Entrails and the (not) cleverly titled Revel in Flesh.

There are good moments. For example, “Sons of Zann,” christens the proceedings in fine fashion with varied tempos throughout and a great melodic breakdown just over four minutes. The duo layer it over and build as a very tasteful and non-frenetic solo leads back to the crunch and punch. “Spectral Cemetery” opens with a sluggish pounding, and the oft-used but hard to abuse funeral bell toll adds atmosphere, and a later maniacal throaty laugh adds that crucial fifteenth piece of flair to one of the strongest songs herein. “Glimpse of the Great Purpose” leads with a tastefully brief bass lick and then builds up to a crushing riff for the verses that ends with a slick 6/4 twist that, cool as it is, makes the subsequent generic section all the more banal. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried to really get into Of the Depths, for much of it, at the first whiff of a distraction I found a song and a half had slipped by.

For example, not much besides the immaculate title of “Scaly Smelly Flesh” sticks out until the chorus, which is the catchiest moment of the entire album to mine ears. The suffocating slow sludge at just over the two-minute mark is the exact kind of variety the album could use more of, but unfortunately those moments are too few and far between. On its heels, the first half of “Outer Conviction” is as forgetful as Ronald Reagan circa 2003, but when Skelethal apply the brakes and slip into a lower gear, things get menacingly interesting. “Macabre Oblivion” ends the disc with an almost punkish urgency that’s refreshing yet leaves me pondering why one of the strongest songs was relegated to a “CD bonus.” The fact that these days bands have to include bonus tracks as motivation to buy a CD as opposed to streaming or downloading an album is a somber reminder that the state of the music business is so sad, it may as well be New Jersey. No offense Jerseyites, but now that gas is expensive there your state really sucks.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Websites: skelethal.bandcamp.com |skelethal.com | facebook.com/skelethal
Releases Worldwide: June 23rd, 2017

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  • First I was like “they spelled skeletal wrong” but then I was like “ohhhh, it’s a lethal skeleton.”

  • Wes Allen

    Once again, we witness the sad truth that a great album cover may not equate to a great album.

  • herrschobel

    it´s a shame that the songwriting doesn´t hold up with the ‘tone’ of the Album…which i think is fantastic. Rough n Rowdy !

    • If may for someone else, I got bored, but then again I get distracSQUIRREL!

  • “Would the EP have had the same impact if it was twice the length? The world may never know.”
    This is exactly how I felt nearly 20 years ago about The Rugrats Movie.

  • Westpaceagle

    Wow, I usually appreciate the reviews even if I don’t agree with them- this one mirrors my feelings damn near verbatim. Well, my verbatims probably wouldn’t have been so concise, but the sentiment is spot on. I had much higher hopes for this one but..yeah, just read the review.

    • Give it a listen. You may dig it more than I did! Its blackened rotten heart is in the right place, that is for sure.

  • The Akerstache

    So modern death metal is the equivalent of that step-sibling shit that’s always on the front page of pornhub nowadays?

    Redundant, shameful, but we kinda like it even though we don’t want anyone to know we do?

    Seems about right.

  • Reese Burns

    Hey Al, I know you were a big fan of their last record, so I was wondering if you’ll be covering The Haunted’s upcoming disk?

    • Unfortunately not. I won’t be writing any reviews until the summer is over. This is my band’s busy season so I am on the road constantly. I went back and listened to Exit Wounds just last week and still stand behind what was my first review here at AMG!

      • Reese Burns

        based on the single, it sounds like Exit Wounds part two, which is fine by me.

        • I dig the single too!

          • Reese Burns

            I’m definitely glad to hear it’s Al-approved (Alpproved?)! It’s crazy how well they bounced back from one hell of a mid-career slouch!

  • Brent Johnson

    Liking the embedded track might have to check out more. Little worried about smelly fish though.

    • Don’t let my review dissuade you, give it a shot.

  • rumour

    “…but when Skelethal apply the breaks…” — should be brakes.

    • Many thanks! We fixed it

      • rumour

        My pleasure. Stout review and overview of the whole culture at large these days. Well done, Al K.

  • Me

    I thought it read Skele thall…..lol….they must like Vildhjarta.

  • Mollusc

    Sorry you don’t feel able to cruise around looking for dirty VHS with pre- and post-pubescents anymore, Mr K. Hope you got your scout badge for it back then.

    • Pretty sure I would go to jail if I did that now.

      • Mollusc

        It’ll be ok once you’ve flashed your AMG badge and explained it’s an educational trip.

        • We all had our AMG badges taken away. Long story.

          • Mollusc

            Ah. I’ve been up to all sorts of nefarious activities on the foolhardy assumption that Team AMG, Metal Police could do me a solid if I were in a jam.

  • Name’s Dalton

    I bought it and don’t like it as much as I thought I would, but I still like it. Love when they slow it down too.

    • It has some great moments for sure. It leans on nostalgia a bit too much for me, and at full-length duration that gets as old as the first Nihilist demo which, incidentally, is 30 fucking years old.

      • Name’s Dalton

        Seemed a little ear fatiguing as well.

  • Apple Tree

    I wouldve given it a 3/5 its samey and kind of boring, but its good enough for be to enjoy with how good the riffs are

  • Spread Wide & Panic

    Again with the Jersey comments. Your face sucks, so there!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Cousin Itt is missing from that band picture.

  • Kinda like it, to be honest, everything that has HM-2 embedded, I’m in :)
    The sound could have been better I guess but I like the songs and they are from my country m/

  • lennymccall

    I’m loving this record!

  • sir_c

    I like the Belial-esque atmosphere of the tracks, even though they are not very original

  • GWW

    “It is this bottom-feeder’s lowly opinion that creatively, the artistic world is in a dismal place.” What an idiotic way to start a Metal review! The artistic world is in the same place it has always been, in our world. More movies means more bad movies. Are you complaining you can’t find good art out there!? Your Reagan comment is also idiotic and without class. Try to stick to a fucking review of music and quit insulting New Jersey and Reagan fans and maybe stop being an all around asshat.

    • You get that writers need an interesting lead in to a piece, right?

      • GWW

        Yup.

        • I appreciate a scathing review of my writing as much as a glowing one. A strong reaction, even negative, means more to me than indifference.
          One of the greatest things about this site is not just the different views of the writers but also those of the readers. I believe both are equally important to the success of AMG and the comment section is usually as much if not more of a fun read than the review itself.. comments like yours that pull no punches in particular so, sincerely, thank you!

          • GWW

            I look forward to your next review and thank you AG for not lowering the banhammer.

      • GWW

        Even without whining about the Art World and a glut of lousy movies, there is a tasteless swipe at an Alzheimer’s patient, nonsense about porn, and insult at New Jersey, some shit about Rosie O’Donell…you call that writing? I am maybe not surprised you actually published this Bottom Feeder crap, probably to fill content for free…so, yeah i get it. I enjoy your reviews for the most part but this guy…

  • jersey devil

    What a dumb to end this review, with a random out-of-place jab at new jersey which was as needless as it was irrelevant to the review. Hey Al, as they say in the garden state–Fuck you.