Skeleton Key is one of those albums where the lyrical concepts are every bit as important as the compositions. Exceptionally well-written lyrics about the corruption and dark background of the medieval Catholic church are all part of this furious death metal landscape, and the historically accurate songs about crusades, Vatican orgies, and inquisition are quite intriguing, to say the least. With this debut effort, Excommunicated also manage to create some really solid death metal, filled with memorable riffs, excellent musicianship, and crushingly heavy atmospheres. Skeleton Key is one hell of an album, and even though it doesn't strike me as something particularly groundbreaking, it's a well-made and extremely promising debut from this American band.
Excommunicated plays a style of death metal with black metal touches, but they also include plenty of melodies into their music. Even though Skeleton Key is a very heavy album, the band never forget about incorporating chilling melodic guitar lines into their music - the dark atmospheres, mixed with the inherently frightening lyrics, makes this one hell of a creepy album. Excommunicated are not only gifted as songwriters, but also as technically proficient musicians. The musicianship is excellent across the board, and I have to especially mention Chad Kelly's terrific vocal performance. Seldom do I hear a death metal vocalist with this much power, conviction, and diversity in his style!
By-and-large, Skeleton Key is a damn good death metal album, and one of the best that 2011 has to offer thus far. The production is a bit too thin for my liking, but that's a minute complaint when the songwriting, musicianship, and lyrics are this strong. Excommunicated have crafted a debut effort that's head-and-shoulders above its competition, and I'd say this is a solid 4 star album. People who enjoy old school death metal with touches of black metal should find plenty to love with this impressive observation!
1. The Abandonment of Hope
2. The Incorruptibles
3. Cry to Heaven
4. Minutes of the Corpse Trials
5. The Vatican Orgies
6. Christ's Sword
7. When Death Claims Its Most Righteous Dead
8. The Birth of Tragedy
9. Keys to the Kingdom of God
10. The Sum of All Life's Pain