Written By: Nameless N00b_15
I was certain this promo was a trap when Steel Druhm gave it to me. Metal Blade Records on my 4th review?! There has to be something catastrophically wrong with whatever is inside this zip file. What I soon found out was that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Skull Pit’s self-titled debut, but there’s a hell of a lot right with it. The band is actually a duo made up of Tatsu Mikami (Church of Misery) and Mem V. Stein (Exumer), the whole project being made possible by the wonders of the internet. These two have collaborated from opposite sides of the globe to deliver one of the most quintessentially metal things I’ve heard in the past couple of years.
It doesn’t take special edition reviewer eardrums to identify the influences for this project. The whole album pulses with the energy, excitement, and fun of the Motörhead and NWOBHM records of yore. If you can listen to any of the songs on this album without grinning like an idiot, tapping your foot and banging your head, then you’re more miserable than Kronos and I don’t want to be your friend1. This is a nine-track, 38-minute ode to the 70s and 80s when heavy was the only genre of metal that existed.2
Just about every song Skull Pit cannonades into your eardrums contains a ripping solo, a riff that could have been stolen from Ace of Spades or Kill ‘Em All and a chorus so hooky that every power metal band is green with envy. While that might sound like it could get repetitious, it’s the little things Skull Pit do that keep the songs varied and the muscles of the neck engaged. A little drum solo here—“Soul Raiders” and “The Line”—some Halestorm flavored southern rock there—“Year of the Dog”—and you have yourself a riot of an album with a new highlight popping up almost every minute. Tatsu and Mem prove their industry veteran status with how well they control the momentum and pacing of Skull Pit. You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but who fucking cares when the olde tricks are this good.
Perhaps the best “trick” is the gorgeous eighties styled production. Welcome to a time when the Loudness War was but a twinkle in Dave Mustaine’s eye. The mix provided by O-mi Kihara from his Japanese studio is excellent, allowing dueling guitar harmonies, gang shouted choruses and a meaty sounding drum kit to all co-exist. The snare in particular sounds wonderful here, its dry thwack contrasting wonderfully against the shining cymbals and roaring guitars. Given that these drums are likely programmed (there’s no credited drummer), it testifies to how much love was put into the project that they received such a quality treatment. If I had to nitpick, Tatsu’s bass could be a bit more audible and Mem’s vocals sometimes slip from the Mark Osegueda-meets-Lemmy inflection to something a bit more nasally, but those are minor quibbles at the worst. The production has the charm and spirit of the new Satan record with a dirtier aesthetic and a (slightly) wider dynamic range.
I put a lot of thought into that 4.0 sitting down at the bottom of this review. That number is indicative of the amount of staying power I think Skull Pit has. The way this album completely dominated my listening time this past week was impressive. Skull Pit embodies the style of Mötörhead, played with the bone rattling energy of modern day the The Crown. That’s a combo right up there with bread and butter. I prognosticate that if this album had been released in the year of our Jørn 1980, it would regularly be mentioned in the same breath as Ace of Spades. Now how’s that for promo kit material?