Fire And Forget the debut album from UK metalers Skeletal Damage is one mighty chunk of thrash power, a muscular riot on the senses to satisfy and rile up the pulse rate. Released via Rising Records the album from the Stoke quartet takes the heart and influence of early UK thrash with a liberal infusion from the likes of early Metallica with a splash of Slayer to unleash meaty rhythms and imposing riffs across nine honest and formidable tracks.
Formed in 2009 Skeletal Damage has made a distinct impression and name with their live shows resulting in a triumph performance at this year’s Download plus support slots for the likes of Revoker, Holy Grail and Funeral For A Friend. This live intensity and power is notable on the album and the ‘…a headshot is the only way!’ EP released earlier this year, the releases holding a very agreeable raw edge to their sounds.
Opening track ‘Rise of the Morningstar’ is an instant barrage of thumping explosive rhythms and senses consuming riffs. Though not the heaviest or most numbing assault heard this year the track pummels the ear with eager intent and intrusive success. Sounding like early Metallica given a booster of Killswitch Engage anger, the song treats the ear with excellent driving riffs and well crafted and executed melodic guitar insertions to raise anticipation of what is to follow even higher. The growls of Martyn Flannagan spine the song with belligerence and attitude, direct and uncompromising and though there is no variety to his delivery which brings a similarity across all tracks, it simply adds to the pure thrash sound and aggression bursting from the speakers.
There is good variety within Fire And Forget though overall the sound, especially the straight forward riffs and Bren gun drum assault and as mentioned the vocals, do instil a strong similarity from track to track. Inside songs though and never far from the surface there is a distinct and exiting array of engaging and impressive guitar play from Tom Barnes to ensure no song is simply a repeat or continuance of another. If one was being fussy there could have been more variety to the thrash riffs and what seems like a single minded drum attack but they are so effective and well formed it can be excused for the enjoyment given.
The consistency and quality across each track is also impressive though as the base sound is so great and every song uses it that maybe is not a surprise. The songs all rile up the juices and excite the heart with their skilled play and unforgiving riff laden intent. From the second track ‘Beneath the Deep’ with its predatory intent, through the thumping energy of ‘Kissing The Knives’ and ‘Blue On Blue’, to the melodic and expressive play within ‘The Deadlights’ and ‘Of False Hope’, the songs never fail to absorb the ear and attention with their neat and instinctive sounds.
The album’s best song is ‘The Dogs Of War’ a song rippling with defiance and menace. The song epitomises the band’s sound, large powerful and with no pretence or attempt to be what it is not. Yes Fire And Forget is far from the most original album you are likely to hear but it certainly delivers thrash better than most releases from similar styled bands this year. Skeletal Damage leave nothing behind on the album, with no shortage of energy, heart and intent Fire And Forget is one of the most enjoyable releases and one that will see many returns to its thrash delights.