Thursday 1 November 2018

Skullcave - FEAR (Album Review)

Release date: September 28th 2018. Label: Art As Catharsis. Format: CD/DD/Vinyl

FEAR – Tracklisting

1.Escape 03:21
2.Fear To Hide 10:18
3.Forgiving 07:10
4.Next Earth 05:30
5.Bleak 19:24


Liam Young - Drums, Vocals
Jay Marriott - Guitar
Mitch Strickland - Bass


Skullcave are a very band to describe as their sound encompasses so many different genres. You have Grunge, Sludge Metal, Doom Metal, Stoner Metal, Post-Metal and even Shoegaze. Their sound is very dark and unique. They classify themselves as Doom-Gaze and whilst that’s true to a point, their sound has hidden depths in both creativity and maximum volume.

Their debut album – FEAR – is aptly named as you don’t know what to expect on the album. The album feels inspired by bands such as Alice In Chains, Pallbearer, Mastodon and YOB. Though delve further into the overall landscape of the album, Skullcave manage to create their own individual sound. If these guys were around in the 90s Alt Rock/Grunge scene then I would have no doubt they would have been HUGE.

The album itself starts off rather timidly with the opening song – Escape. A slow-tempo drone/alt-rock number that builds upto a huge momentum that sadly doesn’t materialize. What this song does is show you the building blocks on what this album is built upon. A distorted and cold industrial sound that promises something bigger on the rest of the album.

Second track – Fear To Hide – starts really slowly before building upto a heavy wall of distorted guitars that brings in the other musical aspects that Skullcave rely upon. This song definitely has a “DOOM-GAZE” feel but wait for a few minutes and the pissed off vocals from Liam appear. Skullcave venture into Neurosis/ISIS (The Band) territory but with a menacing Sludge/Grunge Rock approach.

The production of FEAR is quite raw and unpolished. The album has more a LIVE ALBUM approach in both terms of production and delivery. I mean this as a compliment. The overall sound is quite fearless and murky which makes this album even more compelling.

Third track – Forgiving – starts off very different to the last song with Skullcave playing a heavy industrial/doom/sludge/post-whatever riff that is centred around Liam’s vocals. The lyrics are hard-hitting and cut right down to the bone. The slow-stop-start approach of the music is quite good but can be very off-putting at times. The clean vocals is a nice touch but the song truly comes alive when Skullcave opt for the heavier atmosphere for everything including the vocals.

The final two songs – Next Earth and Bleak – is where Skullcave create the best and heaviest moments on the album. As the music becomes bleaker though with brief moments of uplifting rock/metal music.

The final song Bleak lasts for almost 20 minutes and it shows you the true vision of Skullcave’s music. As they lay everything on the line here both creatively and emotionally.

FEAR is an album that I didn’t really enjoy at first. I thought it was too clever for it’s own good. I only began to admire the album with many repeated listens and then the album slowly started becoming a firm favourite of mine. So give yourself time with this album. As it’s not the most easiest album to listen to and I applaud Skullcave for releasing something different and one that’s not afraid to challenge people’s perceptions of heavy music.

FEAR is a stunning debut album and one you won’t forget about in a long time….

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Art As Catharsis for the promo. FEAR is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl now via Art As Catharsis.