Satanic Surfers

Back From Hell

Written by: PP on 05/06/2018 14:12:18

Satanic Surfers are a cult band among punk circles, especially in Sweden. Founded in 1989, they released their debut EP "Skate To Hell" in 1993 and pioneered the European skate punk movement and helped influence Millencolin among others at the time. They released a number of critically acclaimed skate punk records throughout the 90s with Rodrigo Alfraro's high-pitched vocals at the forefront, but equally noteworthy were the band's talented guitarists, whose technical flair likened the band to many metal bands throughout their career. They disappeared completely from the punk scene shortly after their 2005 release "Taste The Poison". That's the last we heard of the band until a 2015 reunion for the festival circuit.

As usual, these kinds of reunions often lead to new albums, and so here we are with "Back From Hell", their first album in thirteen years. So what's changed since then? Production value, for starters. "Back From Hell" is the cleanest and sharpest sounding Satanic Surfers album to date. This allow's the band's technical guitars to shine in their metallic glory, without overwhelming Alfaro's trademark clean howls that you might recently recall from Atlas Losing Grip.

But otherwise, the album follows a tried-and-tested Satanic Surfers formula: metallic riffs and impressive solos meet breakneck speed melodic punk styled after the 90s skate punk scene as a sort of a mid-point between two scenes. The opening track "The Usurper" is a great example: pedal is firmly floored despite the technical nature of the guitars, and the vocals land somewhere in Rise Against territory, producing an aggressive, yet an ultimately catchy sound that's as trademark Satanic Surfers as it comes.

Similarly, "Catch My Breath" and "All Gone To Shit" are highlights due to their ferocious hardcore punk pace that blends guitar wizardry with melodic punk and catchy vocals. "Self-Medication" is good as well, especially given its subtle ska/reggae influence that appears from almost nowhere in the middle of the song.

On the opposing side, we have "Madhouse", which is an unnecessary tribute to Anthrax that sounds more cheesy than good. Other criticism can still be pointed towards Alfaro's vocals which, while solid in his range, still fail to excite yours truly over the long run (I had the same issue with Atlas Losing Grip on all their albums).

Overall, "Back From Hell" is a quality skate punk album that has it all: memorable choruses, piercing riffs, aggressively fast tempo, and great production. That said, it never surpasses from "good" to "great" at any point during the record: the true highlights are missing from an otherwise consistent album.

Download: The Usurper, Catch My Breath, All Gone To Shit
For the fans of: Atlas Losing Grip, Millencolin, Pulley, Ignite, Belvedere, MUTE
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.04.2018

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