Forgotten Gems: Skelator-Death To All Nations
Metal on Metal Records
Again we find ourselves with not so much a "Forgotten Gem" per say but rather a release that slipped by the metal community without a proper response. In a world in which we find our lives sonically assaulted by horrible modern metal and thousands of black metal acts that all sound alike I would argue the need for more traditionally minded bands like Skelator. Before you ever take this release for a spin you just know from their name and album art that this one is going to be retro. Maybe not retro in the same way as acts like Enforcer, Cauldron, Skull Fist and White Wizzard. No, what we have here is retro loving power metal that is modern enough without being the lame duck that is modern metal. Let me explain more. Formed in San Diego (currently they are in Seattle, Washington where I just happened to be this past month) in 1998 this five piece band went the usual route of demos, EP, a split and compilation appearance before hitting the world with their self-released/independent debut "Give Me Metal or Give Me Death" in 2008. Two years later we have the aptly titled "Death To All Nations". While retro in nature (influenced no doubt as much by classic bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, Blitzkrieg, Angel Witch, Dio and Judas Priest as they were by Fates Warning, Helloween, Metallica, Crimson Glory, Running Wild, Grave and Helstar) there is more than enough modern flair for today's discriminating listener. For one thing the production is crisp and clear allowing songs like "The Truth" and "Circle of Bloodshed" to explode out of your speakers! While in general the group falls into an almost European epic heavy/speed metal category (without the cheesy keyboards and with more thrash metal riffs) tunes like"Stand Up (For Rock and Roll)" come off as more of a homage to early eighties acts like Ozzy, Dio and Judas Priest. It does seem out of place on an album filled with serious heavy tracks and yet it has an earnest feel to it that makes you long for the days when true metal LPs lined the shelves of record stores. No doubt this was a release that just got lost among the mess of heavy metal releases in 2010 and some may view their take on the genre as being to old fashioned and hooky. The thing is though with the revivalism movement in full swing these days a band like Skelator should be standing out in front with their top notch musical skills and ability to write hook-filled heavy metal numbers. Hopefully this post will help lead others to Skelator's brand of retro metal.