Skullshifter - Here In Hell

3 songs
15:36 minutes
***** **


Too many young bands storm the first studio they can get their hands on to record a too long debut album with a bunch of half-hearted songs. And then there is Skullshifter, an American East Coast metal band that decided to get top producer Simon Efemey (Napalm Death, Paradise Lost) to produce their first EP. Maybe it's quite an effort to get such a renowned person for a three-track CD, but the result speaks for itself.

Here In Hell starts with the bone dry I, Punishment, a song that sounds suspiciously like early Nineties power thrash metal. The guitars rock in that precise technical way, the rhythm section kills everything in its way, and the vocals are top notch thrash screams. The following Engines has a bit more of a groove, but still charges with a take-no-prisoners attitude so typical of Skullshifter. The EP ends with the title track, continuing the no-holds-barred thrash direction in a more technical way.

While Here In Hell uses its quarter hour running time to prove that Skullshifter has tremendous musical power, and is a more than promising debut, it also shows the limitations of a genre that emphasises too much its brutal rhythmic power yet lacks melodic refinement. The talent is present: the instruments are all played flawlessly, the vocals walk the fine line between aggression and melody, and the production couldn't have more punch. If Skullshifter decide to leave more room for melodic components, they have a very good chance to enter the same league like Pantera, Dark Angel and Exhorder did before them. Thrash metal fans need to keep this band on their radar.

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