Ahhhhhh, Virginia. There’s just something about the Dominion that continually churns out extremity.
I needn’t remind you of the killer labels and bands keeping the hardcore flag firmly planted in the Mother of States.
Enter Skincrawler, a gloriously rotten three piece splitting time between RVA and Norfolk.
This decidedly nasty proposition is a plague band for the end times. Recorded during the seemingly endless and bleak tumult that was 2020, their self-titled debut EP is a vile 4-pack of blackened hardcore worthy of your blasphemous attention.
Donning such a sinister moniker and appropriately dank sonics, their atmosphere isn’t strictly doom laden. Skincrawler’s unique blend of hardcore and black metal is granted a bit of grindcore’s levity.
The prelude to the opening track “The Violence of Everyday Life” is a skit. In what feels like an Office Space water cooler nightmare vision of hovering middle managers and the soul-sucking workaday grind, the band knows their way around a joke.
Thankfully, the band eschews the self-serious pomp of black metal in favor of the lo-fi maelstrom. In much the same way a band’s standard “Intro” track lays the foundation, Skincrawler’s opening gambit unleashes tremolo riffs that hover like rotten wings over a clattering and building mess of percussion.
Giving way into “Old Routines”, the greatest of all surprises are the clearly decipherable vocals. Though it feels like front person The Rabid Danimal’s come through with a booming echo, as if buried in mildewed crypt.
Equally shrouded in mysterious monikers are Drucifer and Witch Doctor M, whose guitar and drums respectively hammer their hardcore fury with a dash of frenzied d-beat and the buzzing hornet tones of US black metal.
The B side, as it were, is where things truly blossom. “Nothing Gained” and closer “Let Them Suffer” distill their sound expertly. The former is sports a monstrous breakdown, albeit one fortified by a malevolence cribbed from black metal’s pompous corpse.
The drums, however wild, feel as though the listener is being rained upon by nailbombs. The latter closes things like a rusted mausoleum door, cemented shut after a barrage of nasty thrash and a deftly played serpentine riff.
It’s quite clear that surgical precision is no difficult task for this crew, but there’s also a treble-heavy discordance that adds a level of violence to the collection. Forget the creepy crawlies, this band is skin-flaying.
Get on this.