Sunday, August 14, 2011

EXCOMMUNICATED - Skeleton Key CD review

Underworld Records
Genre: Death Metal
Rating: 4/5

So what happens when you combine a handful of Louisiana death metal band veterans who despise the Catholic church (well at least from the medieval era), have some cool guest friends and a vocalist who also runs the record label? You get what we have here, a Louisiana blackened death super group of sorts. Although if you are a purveyor of the USDM underground then you just might consider this to the be the continuation of the bands these guys were all once members of. We start with CATHOLICON who disbanded in 2009 after fifteen years and whose former vocalist/keyboardist, Chad Kelly, leads this assemblance. Other notables who fill out the line-up include former DESPONDENCY guitarist/bassist Jonathan Joubert and former SUTURE guitarist/bassist Jason McIntyre. The band is finalized with session drummer David Kinkade. (obviously all other Louisiana drummers are involved in Sludge metal bands these days so they had to out-source) They also get additional guest help from Andy LaRocque from KING DIAMOND and added vocals by Vincent Crowley of ACHERON and WOLFEN SOCIETY fame.

In all honesty Skeleton Key took me by surprise since I was really expecting this to be a true representation of the sum of all it's parts. In other words I was expecting a decent old school blackened death release. In a way it is but it also reminds me of the more recent concept material from BEHEMOTH minus the heavy technical aspects of course. McIntyre brings with him the brutality while Joubert adds the melodic structures and Kelly as lyricist/vocalist adds the examination of the subject manner (in this case the corruption, scandals, as well as the behavior of the medieval Catholic Church.) Plus his vocals bring about this feeling as if he's playing multiple roles in a one man ten act play. He is part story teller, part inquisitor, part victim and part hero. Actually I should say nine act play since out of the ten cuts the opener "The Abandonment of Hope" is an instrumental intro. Be that as it may the lyrical concept here is something which I would've expected from CATHOLICON if they had not called it quits. The songs on here do not over power but instead draw you into a storyline that's historical as well as interesting. The musicianship is spot on with the exception of Kinkade's drumming which is too clicky and even simplistic at times. Even with that said Skeleton Key is a dark representation into an even darker closet.


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