I’m not someone who was listening to Death Metal in the late 90’s when SKINLESS first arrived on the scene from New York, so I know nothing of their pedigree and status prior to now, this moment here in 2015. All I know is that Only the Ruthless Remain is their first album in nearly a decade and it comes out June 2 via Relapse Records. I also know that no band this good should be away for that long. If you’re looking for simply crushing, bone-bruising tunes, then the seven offered up here will be right up your alley. The original line-up is together once again for this one and there’s been a lot of hubbub over drummer Bob Beaulac’s playing, and rightfully so. The guy knows exactly how to fill a song out properly without overindulging. The same can be said for bassist Joe Keyser. It’s all gut-punch, and no nonsense, as the bass should be.
As far as the songs go “Skinless” was an immediate favorite due to it’s unrelenting brutality. It’s like the band decided to say, “You want some brutal death?? Well, then you got some BRUTAL DEATH, FUCKERS!!” I’m sure they didn’t say that and they’re very nice boys, but you get my drift, right? On opener “Serpenticide” vocalist Sherwood Webber and guitarists Noah Carpenter and Dave Matthews come together to paint a sonic landscape that I would liken to one of scorched earth. The relentless riffs are the firewood and Webber’s voice is the gasoline. Together they strike the match that burns the fucking forest down and reduces Smokey the Bear to tears. In keeping with that theme “Flamethrower” is hot from start to finish, the whole band working in perfect synergy, looking to reduce anyone and anything to ash.
“The Beast Smells Blood” is equal parts dark, brooding, evil, scary, and menacing, and before you know it meat is being ripped from bone and you’re staring down at the bloody stump where your arm once was. All Hell breaks loose for the title track, while “Funeral Curse” starts out much more subdued. The haunting, clean guitar intro gives way to a hungry monster bent on shredding its victims and is also one of the album’s best cuts. Closing out the disc is “Barbaric Proclivity” yet another punishing track that also features a nifty time change almost halfway through before necks start getting broken all over again. When all’s said and done my first SKINLESS experience was pretty fucking goddamn great, and I can’t wait to delve into their earlier material just so’s I can get my head broken open again and see what I’ve been missing. In the meantime I’m gonna hit REPEAT on Only the Ruthless Remains…care to join me?
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM