Excommunicated - _Skeleton Key_
(UW Records, 2011)
by: Aaron McKay (10 out of 10)
I never do this. More accurately, I try never to do this. Where writing metal reviews are concerned, the first-person perspective seems mostly heavy-handed, like an opposing attorney badgering a witness to admit to something that they'd rather refrain from explaining. Obviously reviews are all opinions, be it books, cars, blogs or metal reviews in Chronicles of Chaos. Typically, from the angle I prefer to tackle a CD review I tell myself that ultimately some room to maneuver one's own opinion is left to be decided upon despite any perceived undue influence from me. Direct, first person review commentary can be overtly strong. Now, that said, where this Louisiana outfit, Excommunicated, is concerned, I take exception to my own rule.

The bottom line upfront is this: _Skeleton Key_ is definitely the album to match or overcome for 2011's metal effort of the year; just that, plain and simple. End of discussion. Now let's talk about why.

To begin, here's another unsolicited peak into this writer's metal preferences. I haven't been quite this stoked about a release since hearing Viking Crown or Epoch of Unlight's _Caught in the Unlight_. The overall material conceptualization on _Skeleton Key_ is nothing earthshaking. For the theme, Excommunicated has selected their perception of dubious activities of the medieval Catholic Church. Admittedly, there will always be a small part of me wanting band to recreate King Diamond's magnum opus _Them_, but _Skeleton Key_ is not it. Though I have been known to be a sucker for well-crafted concept albums; _SK_ is that.

The songwriting Excommunicated employs all throughout _SK_ is impeccable. Lulling, at times even semi-wistful passages are prevalent throughout _SK_, complementing the unhinged, barely containable Dresden-like offensive approach by Excommunicated on this well-crafted release. Nine tracks deliver a palpable onslaught beginning with the beautifully played opening cut, "The Abandonment of Hope", which to me is so reminiscent of Morbid Angel's mid-album areal treatise "Desolate Ways" from _Blessed Are the Sick_.

Chad Kelly, a founding member of the outfit Catholicon, delivers a persuasive, but potent vocal approach mixing the intoxicating style from clean to guttural effortlessly. The masterful guitar technique on the album come complements of Jonathan Joubert and Jason McIntyre. For _SK_, session drummer David Kinkade of Borknagar _Universal_ and Malevolent Creation fame, was brought in to more than keep time. Skilled in his craft, Kinkade elevates the percussion to an admirable level without superimposing its energy on the rest of the music. Distinguished guest appearances by Andy LaRocque (Death / King Diamond) and Vincent Crowley (Acheron) intensify the prominence of the extraordinary release.

Opting to immerse my viewpoint down deep within the analysis of Excommunicated's vitally absorbing _Skeleton Key_ for this review surely will fall far short of any banishment, shaming or shunning by my colleagues. Missing out, however, on this absolutely stellar offering from Louisiana's Excommunicated might qualify as a fate worse than death. Highly recommended!

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/excommunication

(article published 30/9/2011)

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