Skinfather: None Will Mourn

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Skinfather: None Will Mourn
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Skinfather: None Will Mourn
Death Metal, Hardcore
Streetcleaner Records
April 22nd, 2014
Release length: 30:45
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Skinfather is a Southern California native Hardcore and Death Metal five-piece. The outfit came together in 2011, and since then issued two EPs and a single, as well as had two line-up changes. Guitarist Andrew Myers was replaced by Anthonie Gonzalez in 2012, while Stephen McCall took over vocal duties after Kurt Swensson in 2013. For 2014, we are given their debut full-length album, None Will Mourn, which is being issued by Streetcleaner Records. But is this an impressive debut, or does it fail to make even the slightest of indents on the listener?

When you hear the styles Death Metal and Hardcore paired up, one would typically think Dying Fetus, though you would be wrong as far as the music on None Will Mourn goes. This is a very gritty album with heavy Death Metal material with some passages, breakdowns and shouting that do fall in line with the Hardcore style. “Ordeal by Fire” introduces this with a nice mixture of some Hardcore attitude to the verses laced with Krisiun and Entombed style hostility and groove. This one sets the expectations for the album back a bit though, as it just isn’t as impressive as some of the others on the release.

“Drown in Black” had a strong Swedish Death Metal presence akin to Dismember that made the abrasive audio quality and guitar distortions all the more enjoyable. The drumming is really where the music grabs you, keeping simple, clean patterns that stood out over the music in the main verses, though the deeper riffs and bass guitar presence in the chorus definitely took over the mix. “Planes of Ruination” is a largely furious track that shifts out of the high-speed assault to crushing slower and two-step fuelled mid-tempo material with ease. This is also one of the few songs where the vocals show additional range, matching the energy the music puts on display the whole time. Then there’s “Dead Still,” another faster track that sounds incredibly rich musically. Due to that, you can pick up on the enthusiasm behind the instruments perfectly, something you rarely pick up on in this album.

“Born of Despair” had a decent mixing of the two styles, keeping the Hardcore approach to the chorus with some simple two-step drumming, though the main verses were where the Death Metal influence came into play. Around two minutes in you’ll find what borders on being a slam breakdown at first, and earlier on there’s an odd passage of chaos that seems like some Mathcore influence being tossed around. This is the more experimental of the songs despite have the separation between the main two styles so obvious, unlike “Atraxia,” a very short Death Metal instrumental piece that doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, but acts as a solid enough interlude that builds up the decrepit atmosphere the slightly empty and abrasive audio quality creates.

There are some issues to be had with None Will Mourn though. First of all, the vocals are rather bland. While their abrasive shouting matches the audio quality well, there’s very limited range. Most of the album stays with the same flat Hardcore screaming, rarely doing anything extra like a random growl or an enthusiastic higher pitched scream. Then there’s the instruments themselves. The distortions on the guitars and clarity of the drum kit are fantastic. When played fast, with or without some extra technicality, the music simply sounds exciting. The problem is that most of the album moves between a slower to medium tempo, and even though the music itself is spot on, it all just comes out kind of flat and leaving you desiring more.

It’s been said a good deal in this review, but here it is again: None Will Mourn is an abrasive album. Skinfather show a great appreciation more for the groove-heavy sound of nineties Swedish Death Metal, and execute it with ease. The Hardcore element seems like a mere afterthought, though not one crammed in at the last minute since some tracks don’t have much of that presence to even take note of. Instead it seems like a happy coincidence that helps add a little more meat when used. If it weren’t for the flat sounding performances all around, this would be a solid piece of hostile Death Metal. But, due to the issues that are more than likely a cosmetic thing than anything the band themselves did, this recording sounds a little on the robotic side. But that doesn’t mean None Will Mourn isn’t worth a spin if you get the chance.

01. Ordeal by Fire – 3:34
02. Drown in Black – 3:43
03. Born of Despair – 2:36
04. Hellish Grave – 4:19
05. Atraxia – 2:14
06. Dead Still – 4:07
07. Calloused – 2:46
08. Planes of Ruination – 2:54
09. Impaled – 4:31
Initial Pressing Score: 6/10

Skinfather
Skinfather

Digital review copy of this release provided by Streetcleaner Records via Earsplit PR.