Review: “Skin ’em Alive” by Ruttenskalle

An Old School Death Metal project brought to life after many years gestation, Ruttenskalle (Swedish for “rotten skull“) was born of the mind of Paulo “Oldskull” Soares, a seasoned multi instrumentalist and producer from Portugal, who some may know from his work as a drummer in Rageful (formerly Wall Of Death) and Torn Fabriks. Working out of Oldskull Sound Studios, the Global Pandemic made it possible for him to re-record some old demos as well as write new material for an album inspired by 90’s Old School Death Metal outfits like Entombed, Dismember and Unleashed as well as to mix and master it, making it a truly solo project in every sense of the word, the only piece of the puzzle outsourced being the cover artwork created by Daniel Cabrera…

…it’s pretty obvious just reading the song titles alone that “Skin ’em Alive” is a collection of tales to horrify akin to works by Clive Barker or Stephen King that are going to contain rotting, filthy and bloodstained violence from the very beginning but what might not be so obvious is the dedication to a homage to the Swedish Death Metal sound of the 90’s. That is achieved by using the classic, patented buzzsaw guitar tone, perhaps from Boss HM-2 pedal that makes for a chunky, filthy and downright sludgy affair from start to finish. “Feast of the Dying Sluts” sets the tone with rampaging kit work, whammy bar lead and solos and a plethora of riffs while Soares has chosen a vocal style that is savage and demonic but also completely audible so there is no need for a lyric sheet to decipher the tales of gore and death that are all consuming. Sonically the album isn’t dense but sounds like the early  works of Pestilence or Carnage as if recorded on analogue equipment, something which gives it a nostalgic charm that others have found hard to achieve but works so well for these songs. The lightening “Rotten God” perhaps shows off some Grindcore leanings as something of a raging inferno before the slower and more atmospheric “Dead Man” mixes up the tempos of the damned to make for powerful and aggressive affair of total carnage.

Perhaps the biggest surprise on the record is “Buried“, one that packs plenty of dark and sinister melody as well as closing on an absolute face melter of a solo that confirms, as if there was every any doubt, that Soares is a complete multi instrumentalist in every sense of the word, able to reach his vision without compromise. That’s something that really hits home during some of the nastier parts of the album, Soares dedication to not only playing all the instruments but also handling all of the studio aspects – time and effort has been invested to get the best possible result and it shows. If “F***ed with My Knife” isn’t a hilariously macabre and gory tale with yet another ripper of a solo that satisfies all of those bloodthirsty urges then the chainsaw at the start of “Anal Ride” is the classic sound track to a low budget horror b-movie that will do exactly that, in a similar way conceptually at least to “Exhumed Information” by Italian Death Metallers Fulci but less phycological and more straight to the (knife) point. Then you’ve got the extended technical solo of “Brainless Whore“, a tale of dismemberment to hide the body at the scene of the crime. What more could you possibly want? [7/10]

Track listing

  1. Feast of the Dying Sluts
  2. Carnage in the Fog
  3. Rotten God
  4. Dead Man
  5. Buried
  6. Time to Kill
  7. F***ed with My Knife
  8. Anal Ride
  9. Cadaver Meal
  10. Brainless Whore

Skin ’em Alive” by Ruttenskalle is out 29th October 2021 via Gruesome Records and is available over at bandcamp

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