Voodoo Glow Skulls (Mann)

Voodoo Glow Skulls

Symbolic

Epitaph

You get a general inkling as to the nature of this record when the opening cut, “We’re Back,” features a rant from Guttermouth’s Mark Adtkins. Sounding like a carnival barker on crack, he introduces the band “…at the zenith of the now unpopular ska-core genre,” and later voicing his general opinion (a notion held by many, one suspects) to “take that goddamned trombone and cram it right up your Two-Tone ass.” Here’s a band that doesn’t take itself or its ill-defined genre seriously. Thank god.

Formed around the nucleus of the Casillas brothers — Frank on vocals, Eddie on guitar, and Jorge on bass — this So-Cal band has been an institution on the ska-core scene for years, but unlike other bands of that ilk that seem to miss on both the ska side or the punky “core” side, VGS is just a great rock band that happens to play very fast songs with horns.

Did I say very fast? This band is the Ramones on speed. The mixture of metal guitar, double-time drumming, and a honking trombone is a joy to hear. Cuts such as “The Drop In” and “The Devil Made Me Do It” are a rush of infectious riffs and hooks topped with vocal swagger. Guitarist Eddie Casillas is a formidable presence with his razor tone and solid chording, adding a dimension to the band that most bands of this sort lack: toughness. Too many of the current crop can’t play hard enough to be punk or fast enough to be convincingly ska, and wind up sounding like a hyper yet wimpy mixture of the two. No fears with this bunch. They are indeed tough enough. Just be careful where you listen to this record — 150 BPM ska-punk is not the type of sound you want to be stuck in a traffic jam with. Just ask the guy I was behind when I put this disc in.

Epitaph 2798 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026; http://www.epitaph.com, http://www.voodooglowskulls.com.

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