Demo:listen: Skullsmasher

This week’s Demo:listen overwhelms with the primitive attack of Los Angeles’ Skullsmasher.

Skullsmasher succeed if only for the fact that their name perfectly encapsulates their sound. Formed by BW, who also plays in Demo:listen alumns Draghkar, and Grave Spirit, but operates under the pseudonym “Ronnie the Butcher” for Skullsmasher. On Cranial Emulsification, Skullsmasher’s likewise appropriately titled demo, BW was joined by two friends.

“Skullsmasher was myself, BW, on guitars and vocals, my good friend Neil Tyrant on drums and vocals, and my buddy Vince Gutfucker on bass. I did all of the vocals for ‘Cannabilitic Entrapment,’ Neil did them on ’Bonehammer’ and on the Impetigo cover, and we shared vocal duties on the others.”

According to BW, Skullsmasher began out of necessity.

“Basically, I was doing what I do a lot of the time—sitting down and listening to Repulsion and Master—and I decided that I really needed a way to channel the most primitive influences that I have. As satisfying as my other bands are, there’s no replacement for playing really simple and brutal, stripped-down death metal with a lot of d-beats under it. Even when I write material for my other bands a lot of the riffs will come out sounding like early punky death metal, and so instead of having to scrap those for not fitting, I thought it’d be appropriate to channel all of that into a new band.

The stuff already released in Draghkar and Grave Spirit should show how much influence I have from the primitive bands that inspired Skullsmasher, in the drumming if in nothing else. Every Draghkar drummer has been required to know how to do a solid d-beat. However, as the songs get longer and more complex in my other bands, there’s just less room for that primitive influence, and I needed a way to get it out of my system. Though it’s not out yet for the public to hear, the new Draghkar EP has longer songs than anything I’ve written before, and though there’s still plenty of d-beating madness in it, it’s just not as primitive as the band used to be, so it was inevitable that Skullsmasher or a similar project would emerge sooner or later.”

He goes on to explain the birth of Skullsmasher, and its short-lived first incarnation.

“I just started writing songs, and once I had enough, I had a couple of good friends fill in with some bass and drums. After some shuffling around the lineup, the Cranial Emulsification demo came together, and though both of the friends that played with me on the demo have already pulled back from the band, Skullsmasher lives on. Initially, Skullsmasher was supposed to just be a studio thing for me to kind of pump out material for, but I had so much fun with the demo that I decided that it’d only be appropriate to get together a full lineup so that I can try and gig on the material a bit in the local Los Angeles scene.”

Skullsmasher’s demo not only crushes and rips off limbs, it proves that bands can have a good time without sacrificing any brutality. Because as savage and caustic as Cranial Emulsification is it’s also a blast to listen to. Of course it must be as fun to play then.

“Absolutely, especially the more stupid and brutal riffs,” BW confirms. “That one part in ‘Bonehammer’ where I alternate the same chord progression as chunky power chords and as a tremolo line is one of the most fun guitar parts I’ve ever written, and even when I’m rehearsing other stuff I’ve been whipping that one out to play around with. It’s also a really cool change to just do really goofy vocal parts—I can empathize a lot more with why John Tardy decided to go with non-words on a lot of the old Obituary stuff after having done some of this material!”

To represent the belligerent brutality that is Skullsmasher’s sound, BW turned to his regular conspirator Karmazid.

“Aesthetic and good presentation are always important to me, so I needed something to show just how much Skullsmasher loves to smash some fucking skulls. I’ve done a lot of work with my friend Karmazid in the past and so it was natural to turn to him to make that happen. While the band was brainstorming what to actually ask him, our accomplice AS (who was supposed to do a noise outro for the demo; asshole that I am, I completely forgot to get one before it was too late) suggested asking Karmazid for something that was the embodiment of Skullsmasher’s name, and Karmazid made it happen. If there’s ever existed a piece of artwork that perfectly encapsulated what we do, it’s that one.”

Cranial Emulsification tapes were put up for sale only yesterday on Night Rhythm Recordings’ webstore. But that doesn’t mean you should sleep on getting yourself a copy.