Skeleton Key

Here’s the debut full-length from Louisiana’s Excommunicated, the new band formed by Chad Kelly of Catholicon (and UW Records founder). He’s joined by two cohorts from Suture and Despondency (Jonathan Joubert and Jason McIntyre respectively). The end result is a varied, enjoyable death/thrash record with an expected Southern-hue that deals with the extremely bloody and depraved past of the papacy and the Vatican over the last few hundred years.

Excommunicated have a rather unique tone that mixes the tangibly Southern tones of, say Goatwhore and Soilent Green, but infuse some Floridian death metal (notably Morbid Angel) and some Bay Area thrash into the mix. It can be a bit jumbled at times, especially Kelly’s vocals which are all over the place from deep death metal growls, to a throaty semi-shout and black-ish rasp, but with the help of the interesting subject matter and strong songwriting it all largely comes together.

The only real downside is that there’s no real flow to the album. In part due to the styles intermingling and the songs which each tell a story, there’s really no common ground between many of the songs. Other than the solid quality and over arching theme of the Vatican, at times each song sounds like a different band (for example the death metal opener “The Incorruptibles” and sprawling thrashy number “Cry to Heaven”). Ultimately, it’s the more death metal based tracks that are more impressive to me as they seem to carry a menace that’s more fitting of the often brutal and perverse themes. “The Vatican Orgies”, “Christ’s Sword” and duo of  “When Death Claims its Most Righteous Dead” and blackened “Keys to the Kingdom of God” (the album’s most thunderous and direct tracks) all seem to have a little more girth and snarl that fits my personal tastes better. Not that the likes of moody  “The Birth of Tragedy” or “The Sum of All Life’s Pain” are terrible, they simply are just not as good.

Along with a nice production that mixes all the influences I talked about, the CD booklet is pretty cool too in itself; besides just the song lyrics, it’s filled with lewd and graphic historical facts and quotes concerning the Vatican’s sordid past. Despite some hiccups, all in all, Excommunicated‘s Skeleton Key is a very solid overall package–be it musically or aesthetically–and it sees Kelly return back into the fray with a proper bang.




[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 11th, 2011


  1. Commented by: elguerosinfe

    Great album. You really nailed it with your descriptions.

  2. Commented by: Clauricaune

    I agree with all you said, Erik. This is a very enjoyable album. I’ll keep an eye on this band.

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