Skinless aren’t exactly ones for hospitality. Less than 15 seconds into Savagery, the New York band’s seventh album and first effort in three years, vocalist Sherwood “Thunder Wheel” Webber IV pins us down by the throat as well as the eardrums, and issues growled death threats. “You have brought upon yourself our savagery!” he roars, his compatriots’ stabbing riffs creating a frenzied fugue. “Die! Die! DIE! DIEEEEEEE!” Make no mistake; this preemptive bludgeoning qualifies as a rude welcome—but for death metal acolytes, a slaying at the hands of these notorious death-dealers might as well be a big, fat bear hug.
There’s certainly more than enough of this “love” to go around on Savagery. A 10-track abomination fashioned from Tampa death metal’s chugging grooves, Bay Area thrash’s anthemic slams, Norwegian black metal’s atmospherics, and New York hardcore’s curb-crushing breakdowns, Savagery stands as Skinless’ strongest, most cohesive effort in years. Stompers like “Skull Session” and “Exacting Revenge” serve up satisfying slabs of the dank red meat fans have come to expect, their preexisting heft rendered all the more fearsome thanks to the cavernous mix of producer Dave Otero (Primitive Man, Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage). As always, the band’s scorched-earth approach isn’t quite as all-encompassing as it seems; “Medieval” and “Cruel Blade of the Guillotine” throw folk guitars and ambient effects into the mix, lending Skinless’ hellish topography dynamic nuance—and even greater power.