Unveiling the Threshold

I was pretty damn stoked upon hearing that France’s Skelethal were releasing a new full-length album this year. I reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed their debut album, Of the Depths…. The duo of Gui Haunting (guitar, vocals) and Jon Whiplash (bass, drums) crafted some terrific burly, bludgeoning old-school Swedeath, paying obvious and massive homage to Carnage/Dismember, as well as nods to God Macabre and Finland’s Convulse, mixed with the primal fierceness of Scream Bloody Gore and the in your face grooves of Napalm Death, Benediction, and even Bolt Thrower.

I’ll admit, when I found out that Whiplash had left the group I had some worry and trepidation about whether the new album, Unveiling the Threshold, would be as strong as Of the Depths…. Would the new material have any chance of standing up to said album considering the longtime creative duo of Haunting and Whiplash was no more? I knew that Gui had put together a proper full lineup, with longtime session lead guitarist, Lucas becoming a full-fledged member, and newcomers Julien  and Lorenzo Vissol on bass and drums respectively, but would this new team and their creativity stand up to the test?

Would their sound change? Would it command its own authority? Would they still pay homage to those elder, aforementioned influences? Would it still simply kick ass?


Well fear not friends, for Unveiling the Threshold does indeed kick some major fucking ass. Honestly, if any change to the band’s authoritative established sound has taken place it’s one of an even more full on embracement of the punishing Swedeath sound, à la Carnage/Dismember. Seriously, if someone would have told me that Gui had recruited David Blomqvist and Fred Etsby themselves into the ranks of Skelethal, for this new album, I would have zero problems believing them. That’s how relentless and authentic of an album the band has unleashed upon us with Unveiling the Threshold. You want an album highlight? A standout track? Well cast your eight-sided die and let that fickle bitch we call Fate pick one for you, because every single one of Unveiling the Threshold’s eight songs is the real fucking deal.

Not only does every track bring the pain, but the listing arrangement is superb, totally maximizing on the pummeling, lead-tastic, Swedeath groove presented therein. The 1,2,3 opening punch of “Sidereal Lifespan”, “Antropomorphia”, and “Emerging from the Ethereal Threshold” is about as good of a triumvirate beginning as one could ask for. Upbeat Dismember flavored beatdowns, full of catchy as all fuck grooves, fantastic blastbeats (a highlight unto the album itself), ripping solos, and little melodic licks and flairs, à la, you guessed it, Dismember, that simply slay. Not to mention some terrific, guttural and nasty, but not too cavernous, vocals courtesy of Haunting.

The sounds of 1991 prevail, not only on Unveiling the Threshold as a whole but heavily within “On Somber Soil”. The track is full of steely fortitude, mixing a bit of a sinister and foreboding feel to the Swedeath shuffle/gait. It’s chock full of flowing riffs, leads aplenty, and a dynamic groove that is flat out crushing. Crushing is actually quite an apt description for the new album, especially when one hears the sounds of closer, “Abyssal Church…the Portal Revealed”. With doomy, death drenched influenced beginnings that the old Swedish guard mastered so well, morphing into some tasty riffage of a stellar belligerence, as well as a bit of furious drumming (again, Vissol’s drum performance is fantastic on this album, something that has been truly upped since Of the Depths…), and the track ends up being a perfect closing point for the album, fading out to the same aural effects that begat the album with opener “Sidereal Lifespan”.

Granted, if you’re a death metal connoisseur, especially of the Swedeath variety, then there is really nothing on Unveiling the Threshold that you haven’t already been exposed to in some way, shape, or form. Be it from the original elder statesmen themselves, or the many great, and not so great, bands emulating and/or aping the style and genre of a Scandinavian yesteryear. With that said, you would be hard pressed to find a better example or representation, here in 2020, of a much beloved sound to these ears. Much like the pleasure one gets from jamming out to some Gruesome for a “fresh”, yet all too familiar listening experience, the same can somewhat be said about Skelethal and their brand of borrowed brutality. Though to me personally, Skelethal strike with far more of an authentic aplomb that so many of today’s bands, that rely on yesterday’s progressions, seem to be lacking.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
December 15th, 2020


  1. Commented by: Steven K

    Hell yeah! This and Bear Mace’s “Charred Fields of Slaughter” are my two favorite death metal releases of 2020, and neither of them are rewriting the book. Just really good, really solid old school styles of death metal.

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