In their own words, RivetSkull are a band committed to “bringing classic heavy metal into the future”, but their range of influences often sets them apart from being yet another leather trousered band of blokes recycling traditional sounds.
Their ‘Trail of Souls’ album was recorded in 2020 in less than ideal conditions, as a global pandemic took hold. The album’s production obviously showed these limitations, especially through a slightly muddy guitar tone and flat drum sound, but the best songs shone through the murk, often suggesting the work of a band who understood the importance of melody.
Two years on, the band re-recorded the album in a more expensive way with the help of legendary producer Matt Hyde. The difference is particularly striking, especially in the guitar department. On the reworked version, Mark X. Plog’s tones come through with a huge sound, not unlike sounds heard during melodic metal’s peak years between 1989-91, and the whole band sound so much more energised. It finally sounds like the kind of album that celebrates its influences rather than just recycling them.
There’s another major difference between the original album and the superior ‘Trail of Souls: Samsara’: ‘Gates of Babylon’ has been dropped in favour of something more familiar – a cover of the Aerosmith classic ‘Kings & Queens’. The darker tones of the arrangement suit RivetSkull very well indeed; Plog has been able to take the chunky riff and give it a slightly more modern tone without losing the melodic feel; the vocals are more of the metal persuasion, but again, fit the melody brilliantly, suggesting something that sounds like something a band like Fate’s Warning might have turned in at the beginning of the 90s.
In an age where re-recording and/or remixing things seems to be an obsession, this project was a necessity for RivetSkull. Everything about ‘Trail of Souls: Samsara’ is a vast improvement, and if the help of a familiar tune brings new ears, then it deserves to take the band forward.
Watch the video for ‘Kings & Queens’ below.