Released: 2003, Self-released
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
The German Death Metal act Branded Skin isn’t that new of a band from the German Metal scene any longer. The band´s history dates back to the year of 2000 when the three current members of the band, Daniel, Sven and Alex, met each other and formed Branded Skin. After some line-up hassles, the band finally was completed by 2 other members (Dirk for 2nd guitar and Jojo for the bass). The band got their shit together and recorded their debut self-titled demo-CD sometime around in 2002 (I suppose?). It contains 6 full songs plus an intro. On this self-titled debut of the band, musically they remind me a great deal of Bolt Thrower and let´s say, quite surprisingly, the times when Finland´s Demigod recorded their now semi-legendary UNHOLY DOMAIN demo back in 1991. In other words, most of the time their songs are dominated by a mid-tempo Death Metal that harks back to the early ´90s; back to that classic era of the whole Death Metal genre as a matter of speaking. For example, a song called “Killing Machine” represents ´bolthrowerish´ worshipping on the band´s debut record that even completely deaf Death Metal maniacs are able to hear clearly, ha! Somehow, they fall a bit too much into this trap where they unfortunately tend to sound monotonous even though I must say that I have heard and witnessed much worse crimes than that within this particular style, so they are of course forgiven for all their ´sins´.
As said, if Bolt Thrower and early Demigod have both been ruling in your house, then there shouldn´t be any reason why you should miss the band´s debut. This is absolutely a wonderful piece of evidence why Death Metal caused such strong reactions of enthusiasm and excitement. Especially when the very first seeds of this particular style were sown in the underground metal scene back in the day by many existing and long disbanded Death Metal pioneers.
(3.6 out of 5)
On SHADOWS OF FEAR, the band´s 2nd muscular Death Metal effort, the guys return with a bit more varied sound that still owes a lot to Bolt Thrower even if much less than on their promising, self-titled debut. This time there´s much more variation in song structures. There are more rhythm changes, faster tempos, and more certain nuances within the songs that add more to the album when compared to the debut release. They probably strive to get away from being just another Bolt Thrower wannabe act - who knows? However, I have to admit that the guys deliver their goods well on SHADOWS OF FEAR in terms of the ´90s flavored Death Metal style. They sound convincing and secure at what they do and they surely know how to do it in an entertaining enough way if you have ever had any receptive ears for the ´90s Death Metal releases in the first place at all. Fans of that particular Death Metal era (like I am, f.ex.) will undoubtedly dig Branded Skin relatively easily for bringing us back a couple of juicy and crispy moments from those times for sure...
Also, if you have ever been wondering what that ex-Pestilence/ex-Asphyx growler Martin van Drunen has been up to lately, and have been dying to hear his voice after a long while, then SHADOWS OF FEAR will be somewhat of an essential purchase for you. Namely Martin appears on 3 songs on the album; “Demonic Voices”, “Purgatory” and “Lesson in Blood” as he sounds as disturbed and crazy as always. His voice has remained pretty much the same, stretching his lungs out into his own typical, distinctive, and yet quite unusual way, so no worries there Martin van Drunen fans. His voice can be recognized right away once he opens his mouth in those 3 songs in question.
Last closing comments? Well, if you have ever felt any closeness or anything, whatsoever to the ´90s Death Metal, then Branded Skin is obviously something for you. Got it? And what the hell are you still waiting for...? Just check them out... NOW (and bring me a cold beer, for grst-sake!!)!!
(3.8 out of 5)