Soulskinner - Descent to AbaddonIn a way, this review feels pointless. The band name is Soulskinner, the album cover is a medley of skeletal figures, and the album title is a reference to the Hebrew realm of the dead. If you’re going into this record expecting anything but death metal, you either just started listening to metal yesterday or you’re one of the individuals who stumbled upon our site by searching for “www.biack man goat fucks.”1 At first glance the most interesting thing Soulskinner offers is the knowledge that one’s spirit possesses an epidermis. Fortunately further listens reveal an inspired, mature, and memorable album that once again proves you don’t always have to push boundaries to make a great record.

Formed in 2000, Soulskinner are a Greek quintet who share members with Diavolos, Thou Art Lord, Principality of Hell, and a host of other Hellenic acts. Descent to Abaddon is the group’s fourth full-length, and it may as well be titled A Love Letter to Death Metal. Built off a foundation that recalls a creepier and less angry Deicide, Descent is a smorgasbord of death metal goodness, an unholy banquet that borrows freely from the genre’s heavy-hitters without ever feeling like a tired rehash.

Opener “Fracticide” begins the party respectably enough, seething like Glen Benton in a vat of holy water and brimming with riffs that reek of The Stench of Redemption. The guitar tone is full-bodied and fiery, and vocalist ‘Gothmog’ roars like Señor Benton at his most inspired. Follow-up “Soul of Death” and early highlight “Chorus of the Initiated” pull from the Swedeath playbook, with “Soul” riding windy Dismember tremolos and “Chorus” bouncing along on skank beats and a simple melodic riff. “The Dead Have Ravished” and “True Bliss” raid Vader‘s war chest with their deathrash verses, with “Ravished” even featuring a chorus lead that sounds heavily inspired by Bolt Thrower’s Those Once Loyal. In a world of compromise, why not bring out the big guns?

Other moments reveal both Descent’s ample variety and the versatility of guitarists Bill Zobolas and Spyros Triantafyllou.2 Both “Nemesis” and the title track slow things to doom-death levels, the former shambling along on glacial chugs and rotten melodies, the latter closing the album with intertwining leads, slimy bass notes, and a frightening yet cinematic chord progression. Throughout the record Zobolas and ‘T.’ embellish the tracks with solos that recall the dexterity and precision of Ralph Santolla’s performance on aforementioned Stench, albeit with less shred and more ‘raise the dead.’ Descent is a creepy album, and while the industry-standard DR6 could have offered a smidge more breathing room, the atmosphere remains dusty and haunting while the guitars bite with a powerful crunch.

Soulskinner 2017

Equally impressive is the songwriting. Most tracks are readily accessible with a rough verse-chorus structure, but often come packaged with a surprising twist that bumps up the “fuck yeah” factor by the end. Take “The Fall,” whose second half features chugging guitars that cut in and out over a steady drumbeat, before being overlaid by a rapid ghoulish melody. Likewise, just as one thinks they’ve had enough swift tremolo riffs for one day, penultimate track “Murder” bursts into a malicious chug that sounds like a hoard of skeletal pirates have you backed against the wall in some dank island dungeon. Throughout the album Soulskinner never devolve into washy atmospherics or other fluff — they remain both steadfastly riffy and consistently enjoyable, delivering a 45-minute onslaught of ideas with at least a few you’ll find replaying in your head days down the road.

Really, my only big complaints about Descent are that some of the riffs start to sound a bit similar by album’s end, and the record isn’t exactly brimming with its own identity. But even those feel like a reach. In all, Descent is a polished, earnest, and entertaining record that feels modern and yet proudly wears the tattered jacket of the old school. Unlike countless acts out there today, Soulskinner seem inspired by the genre’s innovators not because they want to play the same music, but because they want to conjure the same aural nightmare. Bottom line: if you like death metal, you will like this album. If you don’t like death metal, what the fuck did you click this review for?


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Xtreem Music
Website: facebook.com/soulskinnerband
Releases Worldwide: May 22nd, 2017

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Yes, this actually happened. We’re as confused as you are.
  2. Try getting through that one at a spelling bee.
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  • Panagiotis Krokidas

    Excellent review!

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Sold.

  • I guess I didn’t realize using cardboard cut-outs of yourselves in your video was so death metal.

    • Nag Dammit

      Be better if there were cardboard cut outs of their mutilated cadavers (approximations of course). But if they were willing to go “full death” then you could just tie some coat hangers to their limbs and make them dance like marionettes.

  • Drew Music

    I don’t really understand that last sentence. Am I to take it, then, that there are people who don’t like death metal? Just how am I supposed to believe something so preposterous?!

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      There are people who like prog too.

      • Drew Music

        Well duh, the operative word there being ‘too.’ But I think this guy is trying to imply that some people, somehow, actually dislike death metal.
        Baffling.

      • welyyt

        There are dozens of us, dozens!

    • Eli Valcik

      Well I’m picky when it comes to death metal, I dislike about 60% of the DM reviewed here. But this is really good, maybe a 4.0 from me.

      • Drew Music

        But you still have it in you somewhere to like death metal. This guy’s implying there might be psychos running around who don’t like death metal at all, and I’ve been hiding behind locked doors with the shades drawn ever since.

        • Eli Valcik

          Fair enough.

        • Nag Dammit

          Well, they exist my friend. Probably somewhere between being a human and vampires existing in the likelihood scale. No less harrowing though. Just maybe dial back the horror movies and you’ll be cool.

          • Drew Music

            Somebody needs to tell me everything will be alright.

          • HeavyMetalHamster

            Pretty sure ISIS doesn’t like DM….

          • Reese Burns

            ISIS are the nu metal of people.

          • herrschobel

            are we talking about the Band now ????

          • Reese Burns

            Haha, I was referring more to the group of terrorists, the lads in the band all seem like lovely people.

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            Well duh, they only write post metal

          • Thatguy

            This reminds me how sad I am that I dare not wear my Isis band shirt.

          • Drew Music

            ISIS aren’t people.

          • [not a Dr]

            CB Murdoc already told you, but were you paying attention? no…
            http://vicisolumrecords. com/track/everything-is-going-to-be-ok

          • Name’s Dalton

            Everything will not be alright.

            And that’s alright.

  • Asral

    “If you don’t like death metal, what the fuck did you click this review for?”

    I click on all reviews posted here regardless of genre or other expectations, because I like reading the reviews even if I don’t like the music being reviewed. Sometimes I even find music I like in reviews of genres I normally don’t like.

    Does that make me weird?

    PS. I do like good death metal.

    • Eli Valcik

      No, not weird. I’m the same way, I generally dislike death metal but I can listen to bands like Cyptopsy and Bolt Thrower all day.

      • GWW

        Love Cyptopsy! And Immortalation.

  • Nag Dammit

    Damn you Mister Z, you just got me to test search biack man goat fucks in Google. Let’s just say AMG was not anywhere near the top and what I assume that weird person was searching for definitely was. I now assume I appear on some “list” somewhere.

  • Sorry, I’m the one who made a typo when looking for black man goat fucks and ended up here and am now a lifelong metal fan. Goatwhore ftw.

    • Nag Dammit

      Haha. Sorry I called you weird dude but, wow. That’s just. Yeah. Goatwhore rocks though man. I’ll give you that.

      • Was just kiddin’, man! Never Googled such a thing in my life, but now YOU have, haha.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Ooooo
    Another “Color It Yourself” album cover!

  • jetblindracos

    Bandcamp.

  • Me

    Giant a.. hair award to the dude on the left.
    I must see his puffy headbang. :)

  • GWW

    “If you don’t like death metal, what the fuck did you click this review for?” So Death Metal! Yeah, what the fuck!?

  • rumour_control

    “…a malicious chug that sounds like a hoard of skeletal pirates have you backed against the wall in some dank island dungeon.” — great imagery.