Review of Revenge of The Skulls in the Weekender by Mark Uricheck, Weekender Correspondent
Though they officially formed in 2009, Wilkes-Barre-based Aztec Skulls trace their lineage back a decade. Guitarist/bassist/vocalist Kevin Martin and drummer/vocalist David Pugliese initially hooked up with guitarist/vocalist Billy Brandenburg – the three musicians’ biggest common musical thread being local band The Breeze. Forward a few years, exit Brandenburg, and Martin and Pugliese entertain notions of becoming a cover band. They gravitated towards original music, however, and in 2010, released the full-length effort, “You Can’t Sing.”
Continuing to push against the grain of the disposable, over-produced trend machine, the Skulls released “Revenge of the Skulls,” an album that has foundations within tavern-tested classic rock bravado and ‘70s guitar roadburn perfected by outfits like Bachman-Turner Overdrive and Grand Funk Railroad. Laced with a hint of tipsy quirkiness, the songwriting is tough as nails, with tracks like “Long Road,” a throbbing, mid-tempo AC/DC-meets-Blackfoot amp-melter. “Man Overboard” is similarly rebel-minded, with a gnawing, overdriven blues riff and demonic vocal effect draped over the song’s verses.
Conversely, cuts like “I Won’t Let You Down” hint at country-inspired redemption, while Martin’s slide guitar runs cry electric tears, and the vocals echo “Some Girls”-era Stones roots-honk. The awkwardly melancholic tripped-out “Time Enough” has its head in the clouds, the grainy production fitting the lyrics to a tee. There’s no gloss anywhere to be found with this band. The rough edges are part of the experience, akin to a hard rock take on Springsteen’s “Nebraska” album – simple, raw, direct connection.
Championing their own brand of NEPA roots ‘n’ roll, Aztec Skulls’ honest riffing and earth-bare songwriting should grab some eartime from fans of no-frills rock posturing.
Aztec Skulls ‘Revenge of the Skulls’ Rating: W W W V
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