Inciting kängpunk havoc and witching metal mayhem in the Montréal area since 2017, Skumstrike had quickly found a reasonable path beyond their original conception on their first demo (‘Demo 2017‘, 2017) fusing their multi-national backgrounds and tastes beyond that d-beaten backbone since. The speed metal/punk really hit the fan on ‘Pure Coercion‘ (2018), introducing some ‘Beat the Bastards’-esque curveballs and the buzzing n’ snaking rhythms of early Voivod by proxy. The trio’s third tape, ‘Execution Void’, sophisticates the ground-out slime of their second tape as Skumstrike begin to dive headfirst towards their own mixture of intense nigh-grinding hardcore punk bursts and blackened speed metal.
The raucous spirit of metallic Swedish hardcore and early German thrash metal still informs Skumstrike‘s attack as L.A‘s guitar work appears to pull in everything from 90’s hardcore punk to early Slayer in reaching for what I’d consider a true crossover high. In terms of blending moderately complex thrash riffs with era-specific hardcore punk that first band that comes to mind is ‘Mortal Agony’-era Erosion but by the end of the EP it becomes clear that the black/thrash brain of the band is the culprit responsible for their advancing extremity. Think along the lines of Whipstriker or Deathhammer levels of riff applied to a still very punk modus and you’ll get the general idea of what ‘Execution Void’ brings stylistically.
This whole blackened punk-thrasher kit isn’t such a revelation on its own, or it wouldn’t be half as effective if not for Skumstrike‘s sharply honed ‘vibe’; I know that sounds pretty asinine without context but, their intuitive understanding of what cuts hardest in hardcore punk makes them better thrashers. A strong grasp of the right energy and attack makes the difference when returning to this tape several times. The most successful hits come as “Lethal Injection” kicks into its fury right off the bat and “Thousand Eyes” reinforces this, accelerating those late 80’s crossover chunks to a speed that best nails their witching metalpunk gig right on the head. Is it unique enough? The idea, the attack, and the general ripping hailstorm of it all gets me there but only because they dip into some real hardcore punk shit to contrast. In this sense the classic thrasher won’t find revolution in the riffs but the extremist crossover cult will.
Will due respect to the themes, lyrics and songwriting getting the bigger picture here doesn’t have to be all that deep. Defiant nuclear Canadian metalpunk with a ripping thrash sound, plenty o’ great riffs, high-buzzing hardcore energy, and the ‘right’ attack to prime anyone it hits to stay rabid for more. I had a great time with this EP, and stuck with it probably a few days longer than normal because it’d been exactly what I wanted to jump into after a winter full of doom and death. Moderately high recommendation, they’ve got the right stuff and are an inch from coming full-range with their sound and style.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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