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Skullfist | ‘Chasing The Dream’

Canadian thrashers Skull Fist have been one to look out for.

With their stunning debut in 2011 (album of the year for this writer), they soared above their local peers and reached the heights of excellence that Swedish heroes Enforcer have been working at.

‘Head of The Pack’ was a superb cut of melodic thrash metal, all the flare and finesse of highly skilled youthful players entwined with catchy hooks and magnificent songwriting.

Now, 3 years on, the ever difficult second album has arrived.

‘Chasing The Dream’ opens with ‘Hour To Live’. The song fades from the ether before picking up speed. Jackie Slaughter’s vocals are more prominent than on their debut and the song gets a nice boost from it.

It’s a simple enough track (by Skull Fist standards of course) and is enjoyable without flooring the listener. The tempo slows considerably with ‘Bad For Good’.

With a rhythm reminiscent of ‘Commit To Rock’ the song moves along nicely, some nice lead work is peppered throughout and accompanied by Jackie’s vocal hooks in the chorus it burns into the brain.

Title track ‘Chasing The Dream’ sounds like ‘Headless Children’ era W.A.S.P. (especially with the excellent guitar solo ~2mins in) and overall it’s very good without being totally fantastic.

However, on the next track, things really start to take off. ‘Call of The Wild’ finally displays some of the technical virtuosity so evident on the debut.

The whole track is a build up to the killer sweep picking section during the solo, it sounds incredible.

‘Sign of The Warrior’ was originally the highlight of the ‘Heavier Than Metal’ EP in 2010.

It really benefits from the re-recording, particularly the vocals, which have a lot more punch than before.

The song itself is a gem, listen carefully for all the nuances in the lead work, together with the improved vocal delivery it’s a savage track.

‘You’re Gonna Pay’ is a contender for song of the album. A slick song, with scorching riffs, tastefully melodic soloing and a soaring, catchy chorus.

Even the ‘We Will Rock You’ –style section at the halfway point has some cool guitar licks over the top.

‘Don’t Stop The Fight’ is a delightfully speedy affair. Once again, it’s the killer riffage from Jackie that steals the show, sure to satisfy the biggest speed metal and NWOBHM junkies out there all at the same time.

Instrumental ‘Shreds Not Dead’ is a little pointless. There are some nice intricate riffs to be sure and with a little work it may have served well as an album intro.

Unfortunately, it’s just not developed enough to be a penultimate track on a full album, perhaps another recording from ‘Heavier Than Metal’ may have done better?

The album finishes with another mid to up-tempo song, ‘Mean Street Rider’. Its decent and there are some nice flourishes here (particularly Chris Steves drum solo and the guitar harmonies which proceed it). Hardly epic or classic, but its solid.

The album sounds much the same as its predecessor. The bottom end has been fattened up and the vocals have been brought forward in the mix and the reverb turned WAY up. Thankfully, the Canadians have the chops to make these retro

elements work. This a solid release and it’s very, very good. The album has few of the thrash elements present in their previous releases and the overall sound is more commercial, more emphasis on simpler memorable riffs and vocal hooks than brain frying, noodly finger work. That said, if you enjoyed the last album, I’m sure you’ll find plenty to like here.

Final Words: prepare to get Fisted all over again by Canada’s finest.

3.9 / 5 – Bernard Drumm ::: 26/01/14

  1. Blown away. Thought this would be more cack like Cauldron, but it sounds absolutely true to form. Great gear.

  2. Black Shepherd Says:

    Singer is a pure 50/50 mix of Olof Wikstrand from Enforcer and Miljenko Matijevic from Steelheart, in a sort of duck/rabbit gestalt way – he seems to always either sound like one or the other.

    Gave the album a blast this morning, but the vocals just sound tampered and tweaked to fuck. Not saying it’s autotuned, but the music needs a rawer production on the vocals for sure. The vocal production veers almost to Dragonforce territory at times. Pity.

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