Infused with morsels of Eastern European music and punk rock, Skeletonbreath is one of those bands that takes some getting used to. A trio built around Bob Pycior’s violin, Andrew Platt’s bass, and the drums of Tris Palazzolo, Skeletonbreath’s instrumental vibe rumbles with aggression, energy, and odd beauty.
Eagle’s Next, Devil’s Cave is the trio’s second album. As the follow-up to 2006’s Louise, it deepens Skeletonbreath’s sound with layered compositions and dark overtures.
The band formed in 2002 with Pycior, Platt, and original drummer Crockett Doob plunging themselves into the Brooklyn music scene. They played on any stage or floor that would have them, drawing energetic shows out of basements, parties, and festivals. Their touring turned heads and, by the time Doob parted ways with the band in 2007, their sheer force was impossible to stop.
Doob is credited with all drums on Eagle’s Nest, Devil’s Cave. Ronen Codor lends accordion on “Texarcana” and Mike Irwin provides trumpet on “Llarimo,” too.
Pycior’s electric violin does so much more than simply play the role of the band’s vocalist, though. His playing is superb and his leadership is magnificent, but it’s the interplay between Pycior’s instrument and Platt’s bass that really shines and drives this recording. The quieter moments, like the breakdown on the aforementioned “Llarimo,” are like small, intimate tête-à-têtes.
The darker passages, like Pycior’s urgent playing on “Skeletonbreath,” deepen the band’s mission. The instruments go beyond straightforward partnership; they melt together.
Doob’s drums drive the proceedings like Charon’s oar plunging into the waters of the Acheron. There is a certain ominous tone provoked by his playing, as though his foundation somehow makes the instrumentations of Pycior and Platt all the more spine-chilling.
More than just supplying creepy music for Halloween parties, Skeletonbreath manages some moments of true beauty. The driving pace of “Machinists” gives way to delicate moments, offering warmth in the spaces not occupied by the ghastly drive.
Truly distinctive and sometimes truly twisted, Skeletonbreath’s Eagle’s Nest, Devil’s Cave is a persistent, chilling, shadowy, otherworldly, combustible record. Appropriate listening material for the last great ferry ride of your soul, the shrieking strings and thundering percussion swells with equal parts delightful zeal and undeniable gloom.