Nether hollows and old skulls

OLDSKULL: Nether Hollow Of No Return

Release year: 2021
Label: Inhuman Assault Productions

Once again I find myself asking, what’s in a name? This group from Thailand have chosen a name that sounds mostly like the name of some goofy villain from an old cartoon. I can just see He-Man or The Turtles squaring off against a bad guy named Oldskull in an episode where they aren’t fighting their arch enemies.

But Oldskull aren’t cartoon villains. They’re a death metal band. And there certainly are worse names out there, but somehow I feel that adding a space between the world would have made the name far less cartoonish. But I digress; let’s not allow the name to derail us anymore.

So, Oldskull from Thailand and their debut album Nether Hollow Of No Return. From the very onset, it’s quite easy to pinpoint from where these guys have taken their primary cues. The finger points at Great Britain and two landmark acts: Bolt Thrower and Benediction. In their mainly mid-tempo death metal with tungsten-heavy riffwork and gravelly growls, the foursome from Thailand channel the British stalwarts unashamedly. And, as it happens, quite adequately.

To be sure, this isn’t the album to dethrone Bolt Thrower or Benediction from their respective thrones. And speaking in terms of quality, Nether Hollow Of No Return is more akin to Benediction than Bolt Thrower, if you know what I mean. To Oldskull’s credit, whilst they do not rise to equal either band at their prime, this album is better than Benediction at their most mediocre and boring.

However, on the downside, whilst adequately recreating the stylistic trappings of the old school British death metal sound, Oldskull also incorporate the slight sameyness and indistinguishability from song to song that both Bolt Thrower and Benediction were/are wont to succumb to from time to time. No song manages to rise above the rest, and there’s a certain one-sidedness to the album.

Still, insofar as rather unoriginal but adept recreation of the Bolt Thrower/Benediction sound goes, Oldskull aren’t half bad. Nether Hollow Of No Return isn’t a superb album, but it’s quite enjoyable as it is.

And as a debut, this is definitely and decidedly on the good side of things. None of the shortcomings of the album are fatal flaws of the sort that can’t reasonably be fixed on future albums.

3.5/5

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