Skullflower's original origins date back to the mid 80's rising out of guitarist Matthew Bower's previous band Total. Teaming up initially with drummer Stuart Dennison and later bassist Anthony Di Franco, Skullflower's ten year existence saw them release an astonishing amount of material (13 albums, an equal amount of singles and numerous compilations) over this period before their final gasp which came in 1996. Fast forward fifteen years to when the folks over at Crucial Blast eagerly got their hands on the bands 1992 acclaimed album IIIrd Gatekeeper, and decided that nothing less than a proper re-issue and remastering job was in full order.
The power and allure of Skullflower's sound wasn't about musical complexities, it was about annihilating the status quo in rock music. The band achieved this on IIIrd Gatekeeper by displaying a punishing display of sonic brutality, consisting of slow, heavy, distorted guitar riffs dripping with feedback, overtop a muscular almost industrial like rhythm section. Upon first listen the music on IIIrd Gatekeeper may appear to be pretty discordant and devoid of anything even resembling a melody, but after further inspection it's clear the melodic element is indeed in place, it just takes some digging through the dense, multiple layers of sound to uncover them. Bower's distortion levels are often pushed the max , which not only makes for one hell of an aural tempest, but unfortunately in the process he also drowns out his band mates on more than one occasion, rendering Dennison's splendid percussive work almost inaudible at times. The true test for the listener though is managing to sit through all of IIIrd Gatekeeper in one sitting, as Bower's primal wall of sound is a constant assault on the senses, especially on a track like the mind numbing, power drill throb of the eleven minute "Godzilla".
Overall IIIrd Gatekeeper acts a lasting tribute to an outfit that helped create a legitimate genre out of improvisational, psychedelic guitar noise by incorporating such diverse influences as The Stooges, Throbbing Gristle, late era Coltrane and the Velvet Underground. At the time their ambitious sonic explorations caught the attention of established bands like the influential Godflesh, who showed their appreciation by having Skullflower open some shows for them in the U.K shortly after the albums release towards the end of 1992. A strong case can be made that current drone, improv noise outfits such as Boris and Sun O))) are now traversing the same musical roads which Skullflower first paved over twenty years ago. This remaster has been lovingly put together with extensive liner notes and original packaging, so kudos should go out to Crucial Blast for making this 'crucial' release available, in all it's brutal glory, once again.
1) Can You Feel It?
2) Black Rabbit
3) Larks Tongues
4) Center Puss
6) Rotten Sun