Skull Fist are another band that are often, for better or worse, lumped in with the New Wave of Traditional Metal movement name. With Chasing The Dream they prove once again they aren’t just a cheap 80s knock off with a metal by numbers approach to song writing.
Don’t get me wrong, this is 80s as fuck. If you handed this to me on a vinyl I’d probably say something embarrassingly snobby about vinyl, but would go on to guess it was recorded no later than ’86. If not for an incredibly well produced sound, you wouldn’t be able to tell.
The important thing though, is that they don’t rehash the same old riffs and melodies. They add to the classic sound, not take from it.
If you’re not enjoying this album within the first 30 seconds or so, you’re sort of a dick. Hour To Live is an excellent opener and with the slower Bad For Good following there’s already a nice contrast for the listener.
If the music was an octave lower and a bit slower, Sign Of The Warrior would be comfortably at home in the Manowar song book. With a good windmill section in the middle and a “whoa oh” behind the chorus it’s almost destined to be played live.
Given the last few years have been kind of rough on the band, what with money issues and lead singer/guitarist Jackie Slaughter’s neck breaking accident, the album’s title and its title track, Chasing The Dream, are even more poignant. This theme is clear throughout the album, with track titles like Don’t Stop The Fight and Shreds Not Dead on display.
You’re Gonna Pay addresses this dream chasing business head on, a song “written for those who dream and for those who steal dreams.” The lyrics pull no punches and the music takes on a heavier atmosphere while still retaining that traditional upbeat bounce.
As much as I love my music to be cheesier than a plate of macaroni, it’s nice to hear themes relevant to the band personally instead of music about far off mystical lands. You get the distinct impression they’ve put all they’ve got into Chasing The Dream.
The musicianship is one of the things Skull Fist is known for in the metal community. Slaughters vocals are high enough to wrench a ball free from your groin while Nesta’s solos are shit hot. It’s shred done well and that doesn’t happen often enough. Sadly Slade gets a bit buried in the mix at times which takes away a bit of the oomph, on the other hand, this sort of music tends not to have a booming bass. A tight rhythm section is perhaps the most important element of a band, Slade locks in with Steve like they’ve been together for years despite Steve’s joining the band in 2013.
A genuinely fantastic album that is powerful from first to last without a bit of filler. Once again, 2014 is doing a bang up job on the album front. I know something will have to come along that sucks, but hopefully that’s not for a while yet.