Death metal supergroups may be a dime a dozen these days, but every now and again one of them rolls around that is really worth your attention. Skineater is one such act. Hailing from Sweden and featuring musicians that have played with acts like Defleshed, Wombbath, and Carnal Forge (to name just a few), Skineater has a large amount of potential to live up to, and their 2013 debut Dermal Harvest thankfully delivers the goods. A stunning display of death metal styles old and new, Dermal Harvest manages to sound eclectic without sacrificing the genre's core values - Skineater has gotten off on the right foot with this one, and any fan of extreme metal needs to give it a listen!
The first thing that grabbed my attention about Dermal Harvest was how original it is from a stylistic perspective. Not content with being another Entombed clone, Skineater borrows plenty of ideas from old school death metal (particularly American acts like Deicide and Morbid Angel), classic melodic death metal, and even modern brutal death metal sounds. Skineater strikes a fine balance between melody and brutality, and their ability to shift gears from devastating machine-gun blastbeat assaults into fairly melodic guitar leads is remarkable. Although Dermal Harvest should not be mistaken for a melodic death metal album, the band's ability to subtly incorporate melodic phrasings into each of the tracks is remarkable.
Clocking in at around 37 minutes, Dermal Harvest is not a long album, but its duration is perfect for music this intense. It also doesn't hurt that each of the observation's ten tracks have some of the year's best extreme metal riffs; listening to songs like "He Was Murdered" and especially "Made of Godsick" show that Skineater don't mess around when it comes to songwriting. Most of the tracks on Dermal Harvest hover around the four-minute mark, which allows for each song to sound fully developed without coming across as drawn-out and boring.
In short, Skineater is a high-quality act and a real asset in the modern Swedish metal landscape. The group's knack for combining pummeling riffage with catchy songwriting and technical playing makes for one hell of a listen; this album has really stuck with me over the past few weeks. Dermal Harvest is a mesmerizing debut statement with some seriously interesting things going on, and whilst it may not totally re-invent the wheel, the album's original mix of death metal styles makes for an easily recommendable purchase.