SKULL CRUSHER — The Darkside of Humanity (review)

SKULL CRUSHER — The Darkside of Humanity album cover Album · 1996 · Death Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
After death metal splintered off from its parent sub thrash metal in the mid-80s there were two Bay area scenes that pretty much dominated the scene for a brief moment in history, those being the San Francisco Bay Area and the other the Tampa Bay Area but once these two scenes were in full force the death metal scene went viral across the globe with many outstanding bands getting lost in the sheer number of bands that appeared. Poor little Austria has always taken a backseat to its neighbors to the north and that was no exception in the old school death metal scene and i’ll bet you can’t name a single death metal band that has emerged from this nation.

Along with a few early followers such as Pungeant Stench, Disastrous Murmur and Sturdy Taste, the latter of which never made it past the demo stage another band named SKULL CRUSHER formed in 1990 in the tiny town of Niklasdorf near Leoben. This band adopted the classic old school sounds of bands like Death, Obituary, Suffocation, Cannibal Corpose and even Pestilence and Bloodbath and has been largely forgotten in the vast canon of death metal acts of the 90s but just one listen to this debut THE DARKSIDE OF HUMANITY will show you that the band was quite competent albeit not exactly the most original. After the release of three demos “Skull Crusher” from 1992, “Merciless Destiny” from 1993 and “Deathmatch” from 1994, SKULL CRUSHER unleashed its first album THE DARKSIDE OF HUMANITY in 1996.

Influenced most by the Florida death metal scene, SKULL CRUSHER adopted a very similar style of death metal that takes the unrelated crushing brutality of bands like Morbid Angel and Obituary and adds a few more elements of surprise such as occasional pure thrash metal moments as well as a few industrial elements. The inclusion of keyboards added a bit of atmospheric dread but was used fairly sparingly and only emerges in a few quieter moments. While the band had a few lineup changes on this debut it was Andreas Ibitz (bass/vocals), Christian Bukovac (guitars/backing vocals), Robert Windisch (guitars), Wolfgang Rathgeb (drums) and Gerald Bukovac (keyboard). While the music follows the old school playbook there are a few technical elements that give this one a slightly more complex edge throughout the eight track run but more like early Death complexity rather than some of the later 90s bands like Opeth or Gorguts. For 1996 this album does sound about 5 years too late to the game.

While i doubt SKULL CRUSHER will ever go down in history as having crafted a long lost masterpiece mostly due to the lack of originality as this album sounds way too derivative for its own good, the band members sound like seasoned veterans playing this style of old school death metal due to the fact that the band played live for years before scoring a record contract. This is the perfect sort of album that will delight fans of this style after they’ve exhausted the more popular bands of the era and although SKULL CRUSHER will forever be regarded as a second tier band in the world of death metal where the talent pool is filled to the brim, this is quite an excellent album to check out. Gotta love that perfect album cover too with the molten skulls glowing in the sky! This is recommended for the extremely competent musicianship as every track just kills it with and there are enough variations to keep this album from getting stale. Much better than more revered artists like Massacre and Cannibal Corpse in my opinion.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
55 days ago
Good point. The Dutch did produce more than its share of old school death metal Pestilence, Asphyx, Soulburn, Thanatos, Sinister, Phlebtomized, Gorefest, God Dethroned, Burial, Polluted Inheritance, Inquisitor and many more!
UMUR wrote:
55 days ago
The Netherlands should also be mentioned among the more prolific death metal countries along with the US, England and Sweden.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
56 days ago
Yeah, it seems the US, England and Sweden cornered the market with only a few outliers. Austria has always stood in the shadow of Germany even with prog.
UMUR wrote:
56 days ago
Pungent Stench and Disharmonic Orchestra (which started out as a deathgrind act) are some of the only Austrian death metal acts I can mention from the early 90s, so I guess you´re pretty much right about Austrian death metal acts being an exception rather than a rule. Considering the size of the country and the otherwise proud metal tradition of said country, it´s actually also a bit surprising how few German death metal bands made it big. Morgoth, Atrocity, Fleshcrawl, Incubator...and a few others, but really not that many...

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