Skirmish is a very new name in the death metal world. The Finnish quartet have just released their full-length debut Through the Abacinated Eyes and I must say that it was a quite enjoyable listen. Their take on melodic death metal with some thrash influence makes them compatible for repeated listening.
Skirmish’s sound is definitely based in death metal roots. The growling, the drumming and the guitar tone all convey a tight death metal sound. What makes this band interesting is the relative ease with which they are able to transition from brutality to melody and furthermore into grooves. Many tracks feature overarching melodies that add depth to the tracks and to the album’s sound in general. Certain melodic moments remind me of early Kalmah albums. The melodies are often tasteful and complementary to the meatier riffs. Speaking of meatier riffs, this album features them aplenty. While often the music is speedy, they aren’t afraid to groove and rock out in a half-time feel if the song calls for it.
The production on Through the Abacinated Eyes is excellent. All the instruments and vocals are clearly captured, but the mix and mastering leave enough energy so as to not make the band sound robotic. The guitar tone in particular I find is great, with Mikko Kupiainen providing a nice chunky rhythm tone as well as a clear lead sound. I found the leads on this album to be quite good. “Mystery In A Blazing Dream”, which is my favorite song on the album, features a very nice and melodic guitar solo with inventive passages. The vocals of Jani Niskanen are at times throaty and dry and other times are very low and cavernous. I was a bit put off by the vocals at first but they have since grown on me. They may not be for everyone though.
My main knock on this album is a lack of variety or lack of a standout track. The album is very consistent, but many of the songs, while still good, end up sounding fairly similar to one another. Also, although the album as a whole is well crafted, it does not display a ton of originality. That may not be what Skirmish was looking for, and I can respect that, but it may prevent them from truly making a name for themselves as a standout act.
In the end I have to say Through the Abacinated Eyes is a fun listen. At just over forty minutes the length of the album is perfect. It doesn’t stagnate nor does it make you feel short-changed. If you like some pretty energetic death metal with a melodic touch and thrashy feel you should be able to enjoy Skirmish.