I’m a lucky bugger sometimes. “Send me anything you like” I said to the editor when the weekly review listings came out. I didn’t recognise any of the bands on it so wanted to absolve myself from any decision making (I’m a busy boy don’t you know).

So a couple of days later “Gratification Eternal” lands on my mat. I’d not heard of Skinweaver (loved the name though). The GCSE cover art of a masked cleaver wielding dude in a trenchcoat dragging a bird up some steps towards a spooky old church was suitably cheesey, if not a bit pants, but once I pressed play all my preconceived ideas were blasted to atoms. These Belgians bring it on this, their debut album…..and bring it large.

Opening with “Apotemnophilia” (yeah I had to look it up too….. “a neurological disorder characterized by the intense and long-standing desire for amputation of a specific limb”… lovely stuff) The main riff is a belter and is the kind of bouncy, death & roll riff that Entombed used to write back in ’97. Tasty double bass drumming from Sven underpins this song and with Geoff’s ungodly vocal howls bellowing all over it this is a proper “sit up and take notice” opener.

And take notice you should because the rest of this record is a total winner. Pure death metal which at times is pure Benediction / Sinister worship at others the lads give vent to some more black metal influence and sometimes both such as on album highlight “Kneedeep In The Flesh”.

The variety of song writing here is very impressive, especially on a debut and it’s equalled by the lad’s ability too. A song such as “Bastion Of Butchers” kicks off like a total death metal anthem then  midway sounds like a cross between Winterfylleth & Maiden but this change of style flows so well that it’s never jarring or out of place.

Skinweaver are a death metal band that, out of the gate, have their own sound and identity and this album should be in the end of year “best of” lists for any DM fan that cares to lend it an ear.

(9/10 Mark Eve)