Ruttenskalle - Skin ‘em Alive

Ruttenskalle is the solo old school death metal project of Paulo Soares from Portugal. The sound is raw, grim, and evil, hailing back to the late 90s style of Dismember and Grave. The music is pretty basic with slow to mid paced riffs, a lot of distortion, vocals that switch between cavernous growls and mid range snarls with a healthy dose of drumming and atmospheric keyboards to add a little bit of doom elements. The attitude of the album is dark and murderous with song titles that would make Cannibal Corpse proud, but with a little bit of humor sprinkled in to let listeners know the artist is having fun. Tracks like ‘Carnage’ and ‘Buried’ are pretty standard death metal fare with rather melodic solos and definitely have the Grave sound to them. The distortion from the guitars definitely gives it that old school sound but gets in the way of any technical prowess, but the focus on Ruttenskalle’s skill is definitely in the guitar solos. No matter how much a lot of the tracks may sound the same, the solos are always fresh and gripping.

There is a little bit of humor- intentional or not- with other tracks like ‘Anal Ride’ and ‘Feast Of The Dying Sluts.’ While some might consider this a bit over the top, these tracks pay excellent homage to the gruesome, vile imagery that populated a lot of 90s death metal albums. The music also hits harder with a razor sharp tone to the solos and a bit more groove, drawing a little bit of influence from groups like Bloodbath. ‘Anal Ride’ features a short screaming sample of a woman about to be killed, or sodomized, which adds a little humor to the music, but doesn’t take away from the overall evil tone of the track. Spoken samples are very rare on “Skin ‘em Alive’ but they pop up every once in a while, such as the outro of ‘Brainless Whore.’ Soares does a pretty masterful job of making sure they are well placed, just like the touches of keyboards to support the guitar solos, so they don’t take too much away from the music.

Overall, the debut effort "Skin ‘em Alive" doesn’t bring anything new for those who are well versed in old school death metal, but it doesn’t make a mockery of it or sound so cliché that listeners will probably pass on it after the first three tracks. Soares does a good job at paying homage to the old school sound and fans of anywhere from older Paradise Lost to Entombed will probably find this album very enjoyable. Definitely a dark, homicidal album full of tracks meant to beat the brain with while headbanging versus more thoughtful or provoking tracks meant to stir the mind, but still a fun album to enjoy for those who dig the nostalgic brutality of the 90s from the likes of Cannibal Corpse or Mortician.

3 / 5 STARS

1. Feast Of The Dying Sluts
2. Carnage
3. Rotten God
4. Dead Man
5. Buried
6. Time To Kill
7. Fucked With My Knife
8. Anal Ride
9. Cadaver Meal
10. Brainless Whore