Skullshifter - _Here in Hell_
by: Aaron McKay (3.5 out of 5)
If you are going to do something, you might was well go all out in doing it. When the promised demo arrived mere days after lead guitarist, CJ Scioscia, contacted Chronicles of Chaos, I was duly impressed with the professionally assembled press packet; it looked exactly like a kit that might have been sent from Century Media or Metal Blade. While first impressions are notably important and have their place, you don't -listen- to the CD inlay or glossy band bio, so the disc needed to be spun. The three tracks, "I, Punishment", "Engines" and culminating with the demo's title cut, edged the EP over the fifteen minute total play time.

This New Jersey four-piece cram a well-chosen cross-section of appetite-whetting talent within the three songs comprising this demo. While "I, Punishment" initially hooks the listener, it is "Engines" that throttle this effort into full gear -- richly choppy and thick, Tom Nolz's forcefully clean vocals attach a tough-guy rhythm to not just the music, but reality's harshness communicated throughout the lyrics. Along with Tom's vocal / guitar double duty, CJ supplies some skillful, though tempered, solos lightly throughout the EP. Rounding out the punishment department in Skullshifter's member registry are J. McCaffrey on bass and Dan Davie on drums.

The simplicity of the tracks has a primitive, pulsating allure -- that is without question. At the same time, this also provides a baseline of regular continuity that comes across as elementary for an outfit like Skullshifter. In the plus column, _Here in Hell_ was mixed at the hands of producer Simon Efemey (Cancer, Amorphis, Napalm Death). If the upcoming full-length due out soon highlights material in line with Skullshifter's work on the title track, "Here in Hell", it will certainly be like a signed pardon for the band from their self-described perdition.


(article published 28/11/2005)

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