SKITLIV (shit-life) are probably best known for being the main project of Maniac (ex-MAYHEM), although you won't find much resemblance to his earlier endeavors here. Together with Kvarforth (SHINING) he has taken a cathartic journey to the darkest corners of the human psyche. With a series of demos already being unleashed, "Skandinavisk Misantropi" is their first proper album, and some of the songs will already be familiar to followers of the project.
The music of SKITLIV might have sprung from Maniac's Black Metal roots, but with a myriad of other influences, including Neofolk and Doom Metal, the band is slow and ugly enough to both engage and alienate. Sludgy riffs coupled with vicious raspy vocals serves as a basic formula, heavy enough to purge both soul and bowels. The vicious crawl and crashing pain of every repeated riff brings apocalyptic and despondent atmosphere aplenty, like a soundtrack to the deterioration of mankind.
Maniac has also brought along some companions to this celebration of misery, including Gaahl (ex-GORGOROTH), Attila Csihar (MAYHEM), and perhaps most interesting, CURRENT 93's neurotic weirdo David Tibet. The latter's contribution comes in the form of a characteristically haunting vocal-performance on "Towards The Shores Of Loss", which really pushes the music to its limit with his uncomfortable howls. This strong sense of dread and discomfort is also the main strength of SKITLIV, and turns what could otherwise have been a mediocre Doom-performance into a cathartic and cacophonous experience. When the pace picks up, a certain melodic darkness shines through, and the effect is immense.
This brand of tortured music is definitely not for everyone, and it seems obvious that SKITLIV is a profoundly personal venting of Maniac's own demons. If you can stomach the often sickening distorted riffs and general uneasiness, "Skandinavisk Misantropi" will wash over you like a wave of despair. My only major complaint is that half of the songs have already appeared on previous releases, as more new material would have been welcomed with careful reluctance.
(Online March 27, 2010)