Jackie Slaughter is a force of nature. Recently recovered from a broken neck in a skateboarding accident, the singer/guitarist for Toronto power metal band Skull Fist shrieks higher than Mark Slaughter (no relation, as far as I know) one moment and dishes out speedy, virtuosic riffs the next.
The four-piece - which also includes guitarist Jonny Nesta, bassist Casey Slade and temporary drummer Chris Steve - borrows liberally from traditional metal and hard rock, and the nine whiplash-inducing songs on their second album soar with blazing guitarmonies, passionate performances and relentless energy.
Taken all at once, they definitely blur together, and the lyrics are predictably formulaic - about fighting to live life on your own terms, a worthy focus if only the clichés were done away with.
It's when Skull Fist break out into swift time changes, odd chord progressions (Call Of The Wild) and proggy surprises (Shred's Not Dead) that they set themselves apart. Also, the production's great: crisp and balanced; it'd be easy for Slaughter's vocals to be jarring, but they sit just right in the mix.
Top track: Hour To Live
Skull Fist play an album release show at the Virgin Mobile Mod Club on March 7.