Leeds four-piece Skull release Thoughts Of The Others, but does their powerful live reputation translate to the record?
A short spoken voice section opens Skull’s début album, which rather intrusively carries on throughout in an effort to create a narrative.
Much like David Bowie’s cringe-worthy ramblings on his 1995 album 1.Outside that nobody cared about, these superfluous spoken monologues are an attempt to trace a journey, yet they feel out of place here.
‘Hide & Seek’ gets musical proceedings under way with a bang. With a relentless and ferocious wall of guitar and pounding drums, it really gets your full and unabated attention. It’s a pulsating opener, and now you’re in for the ride. ‘Whispers’ is the perfect follow-up, an engaging rocker that feels like a colossal kick to the head with a filthy bassline joined by pounding drums to back Jonny’s voice, who delivers the intensely crisp and angular goods. The band members are known only by their first names, with Aaron, Ben and Mark completing the foursome. I feel like they should adopt pseudonyms, thus becoming like The Ramones, and Jonny Skull manages to capture some of that raw punk magic that oozed from Joey Ramone when he sounds like he’s baring his soul on ‘A Whole’. The song moves along with raw, almost visceral all-out rocker attitude, and Jonny sinks his fangs well and truly into the jugular and doesn’t let go, shaking you around for the ride.
With a glorious rush of energy, ‘RPM’ is a short and raucous rocker, sounding like a blend of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club meets T-Rex meets Arctic Monkeys. Best track on the album. On the electrifying ‘Sleazy’ it sounds as though the band know exactly what you need to hear to keep your head nodding and feet tapping, keeping the pace at full steam ahead, with a dark grittiness running through the track’s DNA. All the music here has a sense of focused purpose, a driving message that plants itself deep into your brain until you understand what it is saying to you: You will like this album.
‘Lightswitch’ rumbles through with menacing riffs, sounding like a grinding death march in the very best possible way, culminating in a thunderous explosion, which flows naturally into ‘Yellow King’. A raw, slow-burner of a track, it threatens to burst at the seams until it ultimately does, sounding as though the band have been given a booster injection. The powerhouse that is ‘Paean’ is a blistering track that grabs your attention immediately, unlike anything else on the album, possessing a haunting, dreamlike quality before Jonny’s strong delivery of his vocals, sharp as any quality blade, slice through the track. It simply tramples everything in its path.
Closing the album is ‘Mother’, a hypnotic and fitting way to end things on. Skull will turn many heads with Thoughts Of The Others because, aside from a small dent in the armour courtesy of the shoehorned spoken sections, they have released an almost-perfect album here. They’ve packed an abundance of energy into the record and tracks as good as this shows that they can whip up great music. It’s beefy, manly and hard-hitting, which in a musical world that is constantly sinking into a bland and sterile oblivion, is a reminder that there is still hope for rock ‘n’ roll.