Skumstrike
Execution Void EP

I live in a VERY northern part of the US. So far north that if I threw a rock from my front porch, I’m at risk of inciting international hostilities with our French-speaking neighbors to the north. It certainly has some perks! Poutine and smoked meat are both readily available, and I have easy access to all the Unibroue La Fin du Monde and Trois Pistoles I could possibly hope to consume (which, depending on the night, might actually be… not so great).

The downside? Winters are an absolute bastard. From November through April (if we’re being optimistic), we’re talking endless strings of grey, lifeless days, plagued with nut-shrinking below-zero temperatures, made worse by shitty, biting winds that feel like walking through a pool of broken glass. I woke up this morning and it was -2 degrees out, but when I stepped outside to find there was no wind, it practically felt like a beach day compared to how things have been lately.

That all being said, the upshot of all that bitterness and misery for half the year seems to be an environment perfectly suited to breed the kind of aggressive, desperate anxiety that lends itself pretty friggin’ well to making metal; and from Montreal’s thriving underground metal scene comes Skumstrike. 

This is not, however, the technical, grandiose or brutal French Canadian brand of metal you might be more acquainted with – this is something a whole lot grittier. This is Montreal’s seedy underbelly – unpolished and unapologetically raw. Execution Void, the band’s 3rd EP, boasts a brand of thrashy crust ala Extreme Noise Terror or Martyrdöd, but seething with a more leather-clad, bullet belt-laden early black metal attitude.

The aptly-titled “Filth” gets things off to a rip-roaring start. After an 80’s slasher flick keyboard intro, they launch right into their assault of frenzied riffs, rapid-fire drumming, and raspy, cavernous vocals straight out of the trash can. Midway, the band goes into crossover mode with a two-step rhythm and punkier, more upbeat guitars.

“The Deserter” – a personal favorite – adds a super fun death n’ roll vibe to the mix, very much bringing This Is Hell-era The Crown to mind, albeit delivered with a whole lot more filth. “Lethal Injection” continues the theme, leaning slightly more in the realm of death metal with furious blast beasts, before breaking out an almost Witchery-like blackened thrash groove. Album closer “The Lie” brings out the album on a real high note. While things get started in a similar vein as the rest of the album, about halfway through the band busts out a slower, surprisingly epic little break from the action, showcasing a level of subtlety and intricacy hidden beneath their grimy exterior.

Clocking in at only around 15 minutes, this quick-hitter actually brings a lot of fun and surprising depth of talent to the table. As is usual with this kind of thing, you’ve gotta be willing to deal with a less-than-quality production value; a big detractor to some – but to these ears just adds an extra layer of weirdly satisfying dirt and grime to the whole polluted package, almost like a warm, invigorating mud bath. Wait, sorry, it’s Canada. That’s probably gravy. Sorry about that. Sorry… Sorry.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
March 13th, 2020

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