I was lucky enough to see The Skulls live at Warped Tour this year, and this CD (along with 2+ hour DVD!) captures the live essence of the band almost as well as sitting in the audience. The recording on “Night Of The Living Skulls” is a little flat, running to the tinny sound of a number of old punk LPs but the energy of the band is such that they cut a wide swath through these limitations and stick their head through, proclaiming a large and long fuck you to all. Each track showcases a little more of the late-seventies flair of The Skulls, with an early climax being achieved with “Summer of Hate”, a track that has simple yet brutal guitar mixed with a sneered-lip and a catchy chorus. Having a rapidly more chaotic guitar solo placed in the middle of the track doesn’t hurt matters, either.
Continuing their high-energy assault with “Can Punk Rock Pay The Bills”, The Skulls show that a band that is a little older can still fight and fuck with the best of theme, scrapping together track after track with all the vitality of a group of twenty-somethings. The spastic drumming of Sean provides the perfect analog to the equally crazy guitar work of Kevin, and even James’ bass makes an entrance here and there, such as in “Rattle Your Bones”. A number of tracks continue that same breakneck speed but really don’t have any other function besides filler; tracks like “Incomplete Suicide” and “Held Against Your Will” just are lacking a vital element that keeps them from being at the same high level of the rest of the CD’s tracks.
The Skulls are insane on stage, and this CD and DVD set goes far in showing this timeless ability. Skill meshes well with an ear for the best in old-school punk rock. There may be a few rough tracks on this disc but one can only expect that with 16 different cuts, of which only two are covers. Not immediately comparable to any band past or present, The Skulls’ brand of punk rock is refreshing in an era of lackadaisical, repetitive and watered-down music that is embarrassingly called punk. A band that has been together over twenty-five years usually is annoying and stuck way behind the times, but The Skulls are as fresh and innovative as they were first all those years ago.
Top Tracks: Victims, Monet
The Skulls – Night Of The Living Skulls / 2004 Finger Records / 16 Tracks / http://www.theskulls.us / http://www.fingerrecords.com / Reviewed 06 December 2004