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Skan - "Old King" (CD/EP)

Skan - "Old King" CD/EP cover image

"Old King" track listing:

1. Immortal Tyrant
2. Beyond Thrones
3. The Eye

Reviewed by on December 2, 2013

"Skan travels through multiple heavy styles.... black metal hellfire singes metalcore's wings."

Joseph Merino began conjuring Skan's "aggressive music for the spiritually insane" three years ago. The Austin-area group's first display of "primal energy," the three-song EP "Old King," was most likely pushed back due to Merino's involvement with reunited '90s industrial metallurgists, Skrew. Merino played his last show with the band at Phil Anselmo's Housecore Horror Film and Heavy Metal Festival.

While "Old King" contains not one trace of keyboards or factory noises, Merino does seem to gather a few guitar riffs from industrial metal icons Strapping Young Lad, Fear Factory, and Skrew. This becomes apparent during the sustained galloping of opener "Immortal Tyrant." Vocally, Merino possesses an old school death metal delivery reminiscent of Atrocity and God Dethroned.

Vocals usually determine a band's style - but Skan travels through multiple heavy styles. On "Beyond Thrones," black metal hellfire singes metalcore's wings. Insectile buzzing guitar pedals and hefty, down-tuned breakdowns find a bridge to Hades through eerily plucked high notes in the vein of Mayhem and Satyricon. "The Eye" finds the album concluding in a doomy fashion, at least for the first part of the song. Potential energy is stored as a background rhythm and then released through a storm of blasting beats. This track is both the slowest and the fastest track on the album, which makes for a climatic ending.

I was a bit apprehensive about Merino's decision to quit the established act, Skrew, but after thoroughly ingesting "Old King," I can honestly say he made the right decision: Skan is both heavy and memorable, and it sounds like nothing else in an area clogged with mimicry. The album moves through aggression, but there are plenty of hooks and even a few guitar melodies. As the song "Immortal Tyrant" exclaims, "I want BLOOD!," and Skan has punctured the neck of the metal industry, although we'll have to wait for a full-length to fully fill our chalice with sanguinary delight.

Highs: Skan's music is a catchy assault of multiple metallic styles.

Lows: The album is too short: two of the songs barely hurdle the three-minute mark.

Bottom line: Skan is off to an excellent start, recommended for fans of modern, extreme metal.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)