I had never cared much about Skinless before they released Trample the weak, hurdle the dead. The band always seemed to be very derivative of every cliché I hated about brutal death metal, but on this particular album they injected a sense of fun (the sample from Hot Shots 2 helped a lot) coupled with some excellent groovy riffs that got the better of me. Years after it came out, it’s still one of those rare brutal death metal album that I can still enjoy as much as when I discovered it. I always regretted never seeing them live and always hoped for a reunion. Now, like every band that ever broke up and whose members are still alive, they are back for some more and with a new album.
Since their departure deathcore has become even bigger and reconnected with its cousin, nu metal, to mesh breakdowns and melodic and whiny vocals with some badly incorporated rap influences.
Skinless thankfully does not try to cater to fans of these genres and prefers to focus on groovy death metal with the same kind of professionalism as before. Although the growls are quite deep, and rarely go to a higher register, you can still understand the vocals a bit which makes them catchier. The riffs are mostly brutal and low tuned thanks to the addition of a second guitarist but there are also some nice lead work (Only the ruthless remain). As for the drummer, his style is diverse and offers many variations that moves away from the traditional brutal death metal patterns but lacks memorable parts. Overall, the sound is perfect for the genre thanks to a production very similar to Trample the weak, hurdle the dead.
All in all, Only the ruthless remain is a death metal album, through and through. The guitars are low, the vocals are low, the drumming hits hard and fast. It’s still a groovier and slower affair than most modern death metal but that’s almost only what this album as for it. Repeated listens don’t bring much surprise despite the solid musicianship, and some catchier moments than what is usually offered from most death metal albums (Flamethrower or the Metallica influenced into of Funeral curse).
From a band who has been apart for a few years, it’s still a strong comeback that will put them back on the map, but it’s just no as memorable or enjoyable for me as Trample the weak, hurdle the dead. I will still see them live when I get the chance and the album might grow on me, but I will still be expecting more from them if they decide to release another album.