March 8, 2013 | , | 4

Skineater, Dermal Harvest

Skineater: Dermal Harvest

Uh, this is… not… at all what I was expecting. With a name like Skineater and a debut album entitled Dermal Harvest, I was expecting something, I don’t know, more brutal or slamming or gore-grind packed. But that’s not at all what we’ve got here. What these ten tracks deliver is a clean and powerful blend of crushing Swedish death metal (think In Flames or At The Gates) along with a helping of U.S. death metal (Morbid Angel and the like) thrown in for good measure. I mean, this is such a well performed and balanced — between crushing riffage and soaring melodies — album that I had to confirm and reconfirm that I was actually listening to the album I thought I was.

The band is comprised of a cast of characters including ex-Wombbath guitarist Håkan Stuvemarkin, guitarist Kari Kainulainan (ex-Mourning Sign), drummer Matte Modin (Raised Fist, ex-Dark Funeral), bassist Stefan Westerberg (ex-Carnal Forge) and vocalist Jörgen Ström (The Mary Major). I’m not sure of some of those previous endeavors, but what I can tell you is that as a group, these guys lay down the death metal law violently and aggressively, all the while remaining within complete control of what’s going on throughout their delivery.

“He Was Murdered” gets things started with a frenzied blast of frantic death metal that’s only tempered by the weaving melodies that snake in and out of the bludgeoning rhythms and eruptions. It’s a track that couldn’t be more appropriate as an opener — it summarizes the album’s themes and direction perfectly. “Dismantling” doesn’t mix words with it’s more straightforward and unrelenting presentation — the constant, pile-driving drums rarely let up especially in the latter half when the band stomps on the gas pedal. The group ups the technical ante a good deal with some slick lead work and riffage in “Your Life is Mine,” one of my favorite songs on Dermal Harvest. The song also sees the band go absolutely ape-shit with some of the more rapid-fire eruptions to be found on the album.

For those that like a little ebb and flow in their death metal (and not just a constant pummeling), then the groove filled “Made of Godsick” is right up your alley. The sog will have heads banging with an infectious, mid-paced rhythm. And for those that really want a more technical aspect, the band gives you “Through the Empire” with it’s grinding eruptions and off-kilter riffing. The remainder of the album sees the band incorporating all elements of their skillset — technical fury, blasting grind and melodies — with great balance and structure in mind.

Hitting play on Dermal Harvest really threw me for a loop. It’s blend of influences is a complete 180 degrees from what I was expecting. Skineater certainly have themselves one of the stronger death metal debuts I’ve heard in a good while. It’s brutal and yet still relatively accessible. And, I’ll be damned if I haven’t spun the disc way too much already. I can’t wait to hear more from these guys — under a more appropriate moniker perhaps.