We were contacted about this three-person band by Karol at Selfmadegod Records in Poland, and man am I grateful for the introduction, because this band’s music has pushed more buttons than I knew I had.
Skeletal Spectre was started in Sweden by the band’s current guitarist and bassist, “Behold the Pentagram”, and features vocals by an American woman, Vanessa Nocera, who also fronts a death metal band called Scaremaker and a doom band called Wooden Stake. The third band member is drummer “Haunting the Beyond”.
Karol hooked me up with a download of the band’s 2011 album (their second, and the first with Nocera on vocals), Occult Spawned Premonitions. From the name of the band, the album cover, and the song titles, I guessed that I was in for horror-themed metal of some kind, and I took the plunge by listening to the opening track, “Scalped”. And then I listened to the rest of the album straight through and immediately started over, without even stopping to wash the putrescent gore off my mangled body or dig the bone fragments out of my hammered skull.
When anyone asks you to list the best female growlers in extreme metal, you will now have to include Vanessa Nocera. Not only can she deliver the horribly bestial, bloody-throated howls and growls you need and want from your death metal, she has a low clean voice, too (contralto?) and sounds uncannily like a young Ozzie Osborne. (more after the jump . . .)
Nocera’s clean vocals aren’t the only aspect of Skeletal Spectre reminiscent of Black Sabbath. The music is a delicious mixture of stoner doom and grisly old-school death metal — part Sabbath, part Grave, part Obituary, all cool. The guitars have that wonderful, ominous, low-tuned buzz of a busted transformer, and “Behold the Pentagram” knows how to write a skull-snapping riff — as well he should.
Since it appears, from the band description we got, that Mr. Pentagram has also been involved with Bonegnawer, Ribspreader, and Demiurg (among others), this has to be Roger “Rogga” Johansson, who definitely knows his shit when it comes to malevolent, hi-distortion, old-school slaughter.
Simple but titanic riffs create lumbering, ghoulish stomps of doom, shot through on occasion with sickening clean leads and solos. The organic drumming, though somewhat subdued in the mix, provides a solid underpinning of boom and crash. The pacing is generally what you’d expect from a doom-heavy dose of death metal, but you do get ramped up blasts of nastiness from songs like the irresistibly infectious death ‘n’ roll of the title track and the death-thrash brutality of “Screams From the Asylum”.
The album closes with a 9-minute-plus monster called “Domain of the Fleshless One”, which approaches funeral-doom levels of oppressive crawl as the band dips its filthy hands even deeper into a musical vat of steaming entrails. It’s a sludgy black mass of morbidity that’s a thing of beauty.
Buyers of the European variant of this album will also be treated to a stupendous bonus track called “Malevolent Patricide”, which spins with massive chainsaw riffing. It’s a fucken old-school, death-doom crusher that hit my sweet spot hard. Here it is, followed by the Sabbath-ian album-opener, “Scalped”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/09-sciezka-09-1.mp3|titles=Skeletal Spectre – Malevolent Patricide] [audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/01-sciezka-01-1.mp3|titles=Skeletal Spectre – Scalped]