Released: 2015, Relapse Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
There’s a certain kind of comfort that only a quality death metal record can provide, and Skinless has always been a reliable band to deliver that knife to the gut when you need it the most. Though the band has been mostly inactive in recent years, the core lineup has reassembled and delivered a mother of a comeback album, the aptly titled ONLY THE RUTHLESS REMAIN.
If you know Skinless, you know what to expect – brutal, take no prisoners death metal. Delivering that special kind of beat you with your own spine kind of death metal that upstate New York seems to breed so well, ONLY THE RUTHLESS REMAIN contains some amazing material. “Serpentcide” and the title track grab your attention with quick, tightly wound riffs that pummel like a high speed piston cylinder, dosed with discrete moments of melody and some wicked lead runs. Returning vocalist Sherwood Webber’s growl sounds HUGE on these tracks; I’ll argue that this is his best vocal performance to date. There’s no question that the band has a formula that they’re comfortable with, and though ONLY THE RUTHLESS REMAIN doesn’t deviate much from that formula, there’s plenty of variation across the seven new tracks. “Skinless” settles into the bands mid-tempo slam roots, while “Funeral Curse” offers some moody Slayer-isms, but burners like “The Beast Smells Blood” and “Barbaric Proclivity” are textbook Skinless at their finest; just pure decimating speed.
At roughly 35 minutes, ONLY THE RUTHLESS REMAIN is a fairly compact affair, but that brevity feeds into the albums’ intensity. It burns fast and hot, with zero filler for the sake of padding out the run time, opening itself up to frequent replay. It’s Grade A Quality Death Metal that delivers everything you could hope for, with the unparalleled ruthlessness that only a band like Skinless can provide.