Samuel Lehikoinen – Guitars & vocals
Markus Tiainen – Lead guitar
Roope Hytönen – Bass guitar
Josa Lahti – Drums
1. Death Works Overtime
2. Sewers of This World
3. Leap of Faith
4. Life and Dread
5. Downward Spiral
6. Reaching Out
8. Return to the Grave
With Skeletal’s Dreadful Life we have an album striving for the same sort of ferocious death metal as heard in classic Immolation or Entombed, with hints of the more vicious end of the thrash spectrum, and ending up with truly mixed results.
It’s straightforward and aggressive death metal for the most part. For the first half of the album the instrumentation is very unrelenting, a constant pounding assault of blast beats and rough, thrashing guitars, but the songs tend to blur together into an indistinct mire of loudness. Nothing really stands out or attempts to do anything interesting, it’s simply there for its own sake. An all-out aural attack can work well, but it needs its own kind of good writing to work, sheer volume and aggression have been done to death (no pun intended) before. The vocals don’t help, being firmly the weakest aspect, and most of the time they just feel like incoherent yelling.
That said, the second half of the album is a significant improvement, and brings in a good deal more variety. The end of “Downward Spiral” breaks away from the constant blasting that comes before and gives a solid death metal rhythmic breakdown. After half an album of repetitive boredom it takes a few moments to sink in, as it slowly hauls back your attention, as you blink, frown and mutter, “Hang on, this is actually pretty good…”. On we press, “Reaching Out” slowing things down significantly, both the instrumentation and the vocals giving it a death-doom vibe, and creating a great atmosphere of darkness. This continues right into the closing song “Return to the Grave”, picking up the pace a bit but maintaining that evil atmosphere, even becoming darkly melodic in the mid-section.
I didn’t like this one at all throughout the first half, but the latter half is a big step up. Skeletal still doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, and while the vocals are probably the weakest single aspect, they do work a lot better in the slower, juicier numbers that come along later in the album, where the songs sound much more distinct and stand out from the rest more.