Frontiers Records
Release date: May 3, 2004

Guitars: C+
Bass: C+
Percussion: B-
Vocals: D-
Lyrics: C-
Recording Quality: B-
Originality: C
Overall Rating: C-

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The Italian based band White Skull has been around for the better part of a decade and a half now, and has gone through some major personnel shake-ups in recent years. Vocalist Gus Adrian Gabarro (from Argentina) came on board in 2001 in time to record The Dark Age, and more recently, in 2003, Danilo Bar took over the lead guitar duties as did Fabio Manfroi on bass guitar. The band is hard core Power Metal, with a no-fluff approach to their music – you’re not going to hear any female falsettos or harpsichords here folks! The XIII Skull (kind of tough to articulate that album title, isn’t it?), represents their first album since joining Frontiers Records, and is comprised of 11 full-length tracks and an “Intro.”


Most elements of the band come together nicely during the song “Top Secret.” This track has the most innovative chorus of them all. “Creature of the Abyss” has an interestingly heavy Irish (Celtic) Folk Music motif to it, especially at the beginning and at the end of the song, and enjoyable extended musical passages. “Power of Blood” has a few curious musical passages with bass semi-solos as well as unique guitar segments that really highlight the potential talents of Danilo Bar – the best performer throughout this album. The drum skills of Alex Mantiero are also fairly evident throughout most of this album.


Other than in the 3 tracks noted above, the recent change of personnel in the band seems to have caused a lack of musical continuity that is evident in how most of the songs come across. The drum work, though skillful, seems to run at a different pace than the other instruments, and even then, the other instruments fail to mesh within themselves well. Vocally, Gus Gabarro cumbersomely delivers lyrics with limited range and a grating rasp to his voice. He sounds like a cross between Udo Dirkscheinder with laryngitis and the late comedian Sam Kinison with a few essential vocal chords shredded. The vocal patterns utilized in the vast majority of the songs in The XIII Skull simply lack musical integrity.


After more playing experience together, it is reasonable to assume the members of White Skull will grow more accustomed to each other and will mesh better together as musicians in future efforts – because musically, the band members demonstrate they have individual talent. Until that time, and unfortunately, for now only radical, hardcore, Power Metal fans will be prone to appreciate the merits of The XII Skull.


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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