Skullview, formed in 1995, are one of the few American bands of the mid-90’s who held high the flag of traditional US Metal (a style many Euopean fans love so dearly) when practically everybody else was tuning into Grunge or Alternative. Today, Skullview are still going strong, as Dean Tavernier confirms. But it took the band nine long years to come up with the follow-up album to "Consequences of Failure". Why that? “To us it doesn’t seem like nine years went by since the release of ‘Consequences of Failure’”, he muses. “But I guess it has been that long. We’ve actually had this album 90% recorded since 2003. We had some situations arise around 2003 that delayed things longer than we had anticipated: career endeavors, legal issues, family situations. It just seemed like one thing after another kept coming up that made us wait around to get this band back on track with the original members. We even tried to bring in a replacement singer when Quimby was pursuing some other avenues musically. And it just didn’t seem to work to our liking. It’s such a long drawn out story that is really boring to tell and read but essentially Skullview never officially disbanded. We were all taking care of other matters during the time the original members weren’t active together. We knew eventually the timing would be right to get the machine started back up and get this album completed the way we intended back in 2003.”
The name of the new album, exlusively released on vinyl through High Roller Records, is "Metalkill the World". In how far is it different musically to "Consequences of Failure" from 2001? Dean explains: “‘Consequences of Failure’ was an album that really tested the limits of our capablilities as musicians. I think we took our musicianship to the next level on that album. We were spending a lot of time writing material. After that album came out, we simply didn’t try to achieve anything over and above what we did on ‘Consequences of Failure’. We simply let things flow naturally while writing ‘Metalkill the World’. Most of the material on ‘Metalkill the World’ developed out of improvisational jamming. Someone would start a riff, then we’d all just improvise our way through the song. The way it turned out in the end was the basis for how the song would be completed. We’d record our improv jams and the ideas that sounded ‘complete’ ended up as new songs. I think the songs are a bit more straight forward and controlled than what we did on ‘Consequences of Failure’. But I think all in all, it is patented Skullview material with similar time signatures, break downs, and structures as any of our previous three releases. ‘Metalkill the World’ showcases all the best elements of all three of our previous releases.”
As already mentioned above very briefly, Skullview formed in 1995 and released their debut album in 1998. In how far have they progressed as a band in those 15 years? That’s what I wanted to know from Dean Tavernier: “I don’t know if we’ve progressed very much at all to be honest. I think individually each of us are naturally better players on our respective instruments … and we’re quite comfortable in knowing what each of us brings to the table in our writing process, but I think we’re basically doing the same thing today that we were doing initially back in 1995 when we first formed. I think it is apparent in our live set list today, songs from ‘Legends’ meld nicely with songs from ‘Metalkill the World’. It has not been our goal to 'progress’. Our goal has always been to simply have fun amongst ourselves playing the music that we love to listen to. Our tastes in music are essentially the same today as it was back when we started. No new influences have crept into our sound. We’re just Skullview, we do what we do, and people should know what to expect out of us.” That’s indeed a view I am very sympathetic with! One thing I do not really like about the new album, I have to admit, is the production. I think "Metalkill the World" could have done with a bit more bass/bottom end ... Dean beggs to differ: “Personally, I think the production is exactly the way it needs to be for these songs. We recorded and produced the album ourselves… so it sounds exactly the way Skullview thinks it should sound. This is the closest sound to what Skullview actually sounds like in our rehearsal basement, which is really what Skullview is in the end anyway: a basement band. I don’t care for overproduced music. I’d rather hear something true to form. Everything on this album is audible, every instrument has its place in the mix and really sounds the same way that we hear it when we rehearse it in our basement. I think overall, it is the best representation of our sound that we captured on any of our four albums.”
If you have a quick look at the album cover of "Metalkill the World", there is probably one band that springs to your mind, namely Manowar. Surprisingly, Dean does not really think so at all: “I was thinking more along the lines of Molly Hatchet. Sure, the artwork will get those godforsaken Manowar comparisons … but nobody in this band gives a shit. Manowar is not our inspiration in the least. I had an idea of what needed to be represented visually for an album entitled ‘Metalkill the World’, and Kris Verwimp made it come to life as our album cover. I’m pleased with the artwork … it’s bold, it’s colorful, and it tells the story of what ‘Metalkill the World’ is all about. People can make all the Manowar comparisons they want … in the end it doesn’t matter. If people are buying or not buying albums because of the artwork resembling something else then they are buying the album for the wrong reason. And really, if you look side by side at the Manowar covers and our cover, there are very little similarities. Besides, the guy on our cover would destroy the guy on the Manowar covers if they were to ever line up across from each other in a battlefield. You’ll never see us in animal skin loin cloths either.” Songwrting wise, although Skullview are a traditional US Metal band in the truest art form, Manowar weren’t an inspiration either: “Manowar has never crossed our minds in writing any of our songs. There is not one single riff in the title track of the album that resembles anything that Manowar does. We have some riot vocals or shouts that say ‘Metalkill the World’ … but that is more an influence from Overkill, Exodus, and Violence … rather than Manowar. I think the Manowar comparisons are funny. Sure, Manowar are a decent band. I’ve enjoyed most of their albums. ‘Into glory Ride’ is probably my favourite. However, there are a couple of members of this band that could give two shits about Manowar. I think the last Manowar album was complete and utter crap and was a waste of my money. ‘God of false Metal’ or whatever they called it. I saw the ‘m’ in Chciago a few years back and was in a Denny’s restaurant after watching their show and they were there with their crew eating. We tried to go over and talk to them, and their security guy stopped us and said: ‘You can not bother Manowar … it’s quiet time for them’. It was totally gay … and quite untrue, so I can’t take their whole ‘True Metal’ act as anything but that: a pitiful act.”
Dean Tavernier can’t really stop talking about the ‘m’: “But, let’s compare Manowar and Skullview and see how much Skullview is influenced by Manowar:
1) Manowar preach being True Metal, yet they have a management company working for them. Skullview IS True Metal. We don’t need a manager to drink beer and play songs in our basement.
2) Manowar preach being True Metal, yet they would sell a lock of their own hair if they could get some money for it. What has Skullview ever sold? We don’t even care if we’re signed to a record label. We’ll still play in our basement for us and our friends even if we weren’t signed. Do you think Manowar would still be jamming together if they were cast out of the public eye and had no money rolling in? I think not.”
3) Manowar have a fan club … they promote their fan club. Skullview is just happy when someone tells us they like our songs. We’re not trying to sign people up or invite them to be our fans.
4) Manowar hire security guys to protect them and keep their fans away. Skullview doesn’t need to hire anyone to protect ourselves, and we welcome our fans to come talk to us.
5) Manowar has a label that signed Bludgeon … how can they claim to promote True Metal if they sign Bludgeon?
6) Manowar go to photo studios and wear make-up and look all pretty for their photos. Skullview takes our photos with a digital camera in our basement after a sweaty rehearsal.
I can go on and on, but the bottom line: no way should we ever be compared to Manowar, nor are we influenced by Manowar. Manowar are a commercial business … we’re influenced by them about as much as we are influenced by Nike.” Okay, understood, I will never ever again draw any sort of comparism between Skullview and Manowar. Promised!
Is there a key song on ‘Metalkill the World’, a central number or are all compositions equally important, I wanted to know from Dean. He says: “Each song has its place on the album. Why waste our time making a bunch of songs for an album if we only aim to make one song important. You need to remember, our albums are created for us, the members of Skullview. We don’t create these albums for fans, or record labels, or reviewers, or anyone else. Skullview has always written songs for ourselves to enjoy when we get together in our basement to drink beer and have a good time amongst friends. The fact that we’ve been fortunate enough to have labels interested in releasing our material is great, and we do appreciate that we’ve garnered fans and a following, but it is not our intention to please anyone but ourselves. So to us, all songs are necessary to be on the albums. When we get eight songs written that we like, then we will record them. If someone wants to release them on album, then so be it. It doesn’t really matter to us.”
My personal favourite on the album is the mid-tempo smasher "Behind the Cell". Dean Tavernier digs my choice: “Glad you like this song … we like it too, and it is a fun song to play. It used to be my favourite, but lately I’m enjoying ‘Legions of the Star Scroll’ a little more.”
What have been Skullview’s other influences when they started out? Bands like Fates Warning, Omen, Helstar, Hades ...? Dean: “Fates Warning, Omen, and Helstar are all great bands. I don’t know if any of them influenced our sound in Skullview or not but I love those bands. Hades, I can care less for … never liked them. We have a vast array of bands that we’ve been influenced by. I think D.R.I. is one of our biggest influences. Ted Nugent is a huge influence too. At The Gates, Dismember, Carcass, Maiden, Priest, Sabbath, Queensryche, Carnage, AC/DC, Overkill, Slayer, Possessed, Unleashed, Immortal, Burzum, Sodom, Dark Angel, Power Drops, Autopsy, Scorpions, Trouble, Sacrifice, Jethro Tull, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple. I mean the list just goes on and on. Note: I did not list Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, or Virgin Steele.”
Are there any current US Metal bands that Dean would rate as good as
the 1980's originators of the genre? There are indeed a few: “Slough Feg and Ravensthorn are all I can think of. Amulance are still around, so I guess you could include them. Gates Of Slumber is good Doom Metal. Diamond Plate are good Bay Area styled Thrash.”
As mentioned before, the vinyl edition of "Metalkill the World" is out via High Roller Records. Is Dean familiar with the High Roller catalogue? He is: “I think the fact that High Roller Records has While Heaven Wept and Trouble’s ‘Simple Mind Condition’ (such a very underrated album) released on LP is statement enough that your outfit is a good label. You guys have put out some really cool LP’s, so Skullview is happy that Pure Steel is working with High Roller to get our album released on vinyl.”