When you play the new album from Skipjack titled A Soundtrack to a Eulogy, the first thing you might think of is a beach front movie scene featuring Captain Geech and the Shrimpshack Shooters. Mr. White’s peremptory request for “something snappy” as delivered by Tom Hanks is a comedic four second set up for the opening track Rise and Fall to immediately kick you in the derriere. With trenchant vocals backed by some seriously good thrashy guitars and aggressive drumming, the album opener is akin to inciting a riot, and at the very least, serves as a call for angry punks to get rowdy in a pit.
Rather than move into a second song that eases back and lets off the gas, Skipjack somehow manages to turn it up even further on Arrivals and Departures. Imagine Spinal Tap turing the volume “one louder” to push the levels to a notch higher than what is even possible. Yes, the band turns it up to “11”. As drummer Aaron Yorty ratchets up the BPM and the guitars continue to make a statement, singer Chad Ruiz lays down some durable vocals. With a story telling lead in, a simple request is made: “please help me! Take the noose from around my neck, flush me out, don’t leave me hanging!” It’s out of pitch and it doesn’t matter because Chad’s vocal prowess resides more in shear punk rock energy. The rhythms are on point and at 1:07 into the song following a well-placed open-string-pull-off guitar solo, you will get flooded by a barrage of lyrics and syllables. For lack of a better description, it’s a bada$$ vocal moment!
…and there is still no rest on the subsequent song before reaching the fourth track titled The Grande Collapse. This is a song that you should already be familiar with. Why? …because you’re a smart San Diego punk music fan who has surely attended one of the many killer shows hosted by Slabratory Clothing and you picked up a copy of their two-disc cd compilation featuring a slew of great bands and an early version of this song by Skipjack. It’s another fast number with guitar work that will remind you a little bit of Wouldn’t it be Nice by Pennywise.
Without talking about every single song individually, it would be silly not to mention Utah Broke my Heart. It is my personal favorite on the release. It’s loaded with awesome guitar leads and dynamic tension. At 1:37, Chad is screaming at the top of his range while Aaron is grinding a lengthy snare fill that builds into an instrumental crescendo which should cause any pit to absolutely erupt! It’s that moment at a live show when you need to increase your alertness because a sweaty dude who is a foot & and half taller and 70 lbs heavier than you is extremely likely to collide in to you with force. Be sure to manage your drink and keep your alcohol off the floor. You have been warned!
The album forges on with 11 tracks including a more polished remake of Pioneer Memorial. This song was originally written in a side project that Chad did with Jeremy Frasca, one of the original Skipjack guitarists, Aaron Jones (Dogmatic, Jovi and the Issues, Fallen Monuments) and Brandon Lounsbury (Dogmatic, Strike the Design, Guys on the Hill, Castoff). With highlight after highlight, A Soundtrack to a Eulogy is quite possibly Skipjack’s best album to date. I have repeatedly made mention of the fine guitar work. Jordan Hamilton and Chris Carignan shred! It’s that simple. Justin Ternes is no slouch on the bass to keep up with those guys either. Aaron Yorty is a very well rounded drummer who holds down the fast tempos as good as anyone out there. Collectively, these names comprise a brand new line-up with Chad Ruiz being the only original member. The result is a renewed energy and one heck of a solid release!
4 out of 5 SDP Skulls
Reviewed by Todd Dulawan