Album Review ~ Skunk Oil ~ ‘Skeletons in the Closet’

Want some brand new rock that will give you raw energy, totally different than what is out on the music market right now? Give Skunk Oil a listen. This independent Boston band is currently comprised of members guitarist Dennis D’Angelo, drummer Caio Moskalkoff, and keyboardist Lucas Tadini, Bruno Silva on bass and Jaska Isola lead vocals, with honorable mention to Pedro Zappa, for recording contributions on bass. All of the band members are graduates of Berklee College of Music. Over the course of three years, they independently composed, arranged, produced, and recorded their debut EP Skeletons in the Closet, which was released on September 3, 2018.

When I first spoke with Dennis D’Angelo, the band’s lead guitarist as well as producer, sound engineer, and co-founder of the band, he asked me if I liked Alice in Chains and Black Sabbath. After I responded with “Of Course!” he then suggested I would love their sound. Well it’s true: I do love their sound.

“Ritual” made me a fan of Skunk Oil within the first 30 seconds of the song. I was hooked, instantly drawn in by the slow, dark, and haunting atmosphere. The voice and music perfectly synced and tapped into the right vibe to make me feel like releasing every evil thought and bad feeling I was holding in. This song is a masterpiece that I put on repeat. From the EP, this song is the one that reminds me of Alice in Chains the most. The remainder of the EP provokes thoughts and emotions of despair, with the exception of “Elephant’s Paw,” which made me feel strong and revived from a dead point in my life. Oddly enough the first time I heard “Elephant’s Paw” when it was first released I described it as Batman meets Marilyn Manson. Give it a listen and tell me if you hear the same influences. The single repetitive pluck of the guitar strings on “Digging for Pearls” draws you in like a slow dark opening to a scary movie. You sit listening to see where it leads. “It’s never too late to poke holes”.

Skunk Oil sounds different from the music you hear on the radio today but revisits and implements sounds from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age and Black Sabbath. The dark, haunting lyrics, perfectly executed by lead singer Jaska Isola, will send shivers down your spine while the dynamics of the instruments is like combining the last three decades of rock history; it has a little something in a complete for everyone. The variation in the songs will keep listeners wanting more and not knowing what to expect next, but the cohesive lyrics evoke irony and cynicism on the EP wrapping them all together to tell a thought provoking story of life.

I had the opportunity to ask a question or so to the band so why no clarify a few things to get to know them better.

Why did the EP take 3 years to complete? Can you describe what contributed to the process and who was involved?

  • Dennis: It all began back in 2015, when my former roommate João Paulo Velozo and I started to work on the first ideas of these songs. Back then it was just for fun, but once we noticed the songs were actually pretty good, and a lot of feelings and meaning was put into them, we thought it all could be more than just “home recordings” so we decided to record an EP. We wanted to do something big, production and quality wise, so after a phase of pre-production at my home studio in Boston, we pushed ourselves to find different sounds and tones, inspired by bands that influenced us or simply with sounds we heard in our heads.

Along the way we invited Caio and Lucas to play drums and keys respectively, and in October 2015 we started recording the EP.

  • Caio: The idea of forming a band together only came later as we realized we were doing something really cool together, so why not doing it more ‘as a band’ than just recording an EP as a ‘project’. You know?
  • Dennis: we invited Pedro Zappa to record the bass lines for us, but since he had other musical projects going on, he couldn’t commit to another band at the time. Pedro recorded all songs but Elephant’s Paw, which was recorded by Bruno later in 2017.
  • Caio: We named the band Skeletons in the Closet since the expression related perfectly to things that were going on in our lives. Throughout the months we were recording, we also collaborated with some really talented vocalists who helped us shaping the songs and melodies. Singers like Sebastian Fernandez, vocalist for Stone Giant, recorded the first demos and a few months later Nathalia Zabeu. Jaska came to join us, only in 2018, and he was the perfect fit.
  • Dennis: So why did it take three years? Well, we had a lot of obstacles and things happening while we were working on this EP. Especially around September of last year, when most of us thought it would have been cool to relocate to Los Angeles. The band had to split the original formation, but most of us wanted to finish what we had started and release it, especially after so much time and dedication was put into it.
  • Caio: On the other hand, it wouldn’t have made a lot of sense to keep the original name, so we changed it to Skunk Oil, but we thought the expression ‘Skeletons in the Closet’ was perfect as the title of the EP.

    By Contributing Photographer/Writer Michalle Henderson

    Stream/Purchase Skeletons in the Closet  HERE

    CONNECT WITH SKUNK OIL ONLINE:

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