Band: Skull Fist
Title: Way of the Road
Label: NoiseArt Records
Release Date: 26 October 2018
Format reviewed: Digital
I’m really a die hard for Skull Fist. Over the past four years “Head öf the Pack” and “Chasing the Dream” are among my most played albums. Haven’t stopped listening to them actually. Really like what the guys were doing – so much energy, heart and devotion to the No False Metal cause. Skull Fist are my top artist in that wave for returning to the roots of the Speed and the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal – stylistically and with attitude. And of course that nostalgic feeling, and sweet pain in heart which the music brings. Yes, I have already mentioned this in my reviews of new Cauldron and Haunt albums. That’s why I anticipated so much “The Way of the Road”. Just because Skull Fist are among my favourite bands.
When “You Belong To Me” was released as teasing track, I went ecstatic, because the track was real Skull Fist blaster. YES!! It carries all the elements I enjoy so much in Skull Fist – speed, emotion, catchy melody. Then “No More Running” was shot, and I was – OK, they took the “Bad For Good” more commercial way, despite of the fact this time the track is simpler than the aforementioned one, with less power and not that flawless in terms of composition and mix. Furthermore, I instantly got the feeling I’d heard parts of main leads already in “Commit to Rock” and especially “Ride On” (both tracks off the “Head öf the Pack” album). This feeling got stronger by watching and listening to the “Stay True” track. Same pattern, same direction, same overall feeling and impression as for “No More Running.” So two slow tracks, and one true Skull Fist. Oh, I’m going to wait for the album…
“You Belong To Me” and “No More Running” are opening the 35-minutes long, third full-length album of Zach, Casey, Johnny and JJ. They are followed by “I am a Slave” – real whirlwind song. The fastest track in the record – typical for the band, with their undisputed “Heavier than Metal” and “Head of the Pack” attitude and speed. “Witch Hunt” is darker and slow track, where I felt the album starts to drown. Actually I got bored by listening to it. Oh my…It really doesn’t offer anything to grab attention. The self-titled “Way of the Road” is a slow track again (I even caught some rhythm and blues SRV pattern, but maybe I was wrong) with marching forward the road tempo and nice sing-along chorus. However the album is still drowning, although the track becomes enjoyable after 5-6 listens actually. Followed by “Heart of Rio”, another slow track with some taste of personal nostalgia, typical for those so 80s songs where “I left my heart in Rio”. After these three consecutive tracks I must admit – they somehow look stitched and unpolished. All three very similar, with no heart. On top they seemed unpolished in their mix, like a demo. Something which additionally increased the growing frustration. “Better Late Than Never” brought me back on the track with its faster tempo and catchy riffs – a flashback for the “Chasing the Dream” glorious times. “Don’t Cross Me” carries Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” overall feeling in terms of tempo, rhythm, attitude. Still though, I wasn’t much impressed, to be honest. The album ends with “Stay True.”
Well. Few conclusions. Skull Fist’s new album didn’t jeopardise my high expectations. It left mixed feelings and disappointment. I got the impression it was created in a hurry and recorded in the garage. Yeah, it grew after some spins, but still it doesn’t move me. I have heard it all in their previous records but so much better in terms of performing, sound, mix and big heart… Yes, the songs are composed in the same way, but they lack of emotion. The lead solos are brought over everything, standing alone to emphasize the Zach and Johnny techniques and skills, but we all know that. Being a bit…ok not flawless lead solos though. Like containing a slight mistake or breaking down suddenly. The lead guitar seem to be overexposed in the mix in the main melodies on the slow songs too. On top comes the so typical “riff – 2 seconds transition blasting solo – riff” way of stitching the parts of the tracks… I just can’t get rid of this middle part of the album where it just drowns in some boredom. Something which doesn’t change much until the end. There is NO speed, no Speed metal! And the album is more on the obscure heavy metal side. Oh, yes, and Zach’s vocals are changed, but that’s understandable after the troubles he had with his voice.
Yes, I know – it’s easier to critique than to create, but I stayed true and tried to describe how a real fan of the band feels by meeting “Way of the Road.” It hurts.
I really love you guys and I know you can do so much fucking better. FK! 5.5/10 Count Vlad
5.5/10 Floating in the Sea of Mediocrity
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