Review by Daniel for Protector - A Shedding of Skin (1991)
My introduction to German extreme metal outfit Protector came via their 1989 sophomore album "Urm the Mad" which I quite liked at the time & that experience led me to follow the band throughout their entire career. I've been pleased to see that they've been able to maintain a fairly consistent standard throughout with just the one blemish along the way too. Protector's 1987 debut "Misanthropy" E.P. has been a particular talking point for me over the years actually as, despite being claimed by many to be a thrash metal release, I regard it as not only being one of the earlier examples of genuine death metal you'll find but also one that eclipses some of the more prominent releases of the time as well. The Protector record that's most highly regarded though is unquestionably their 1991 third album "A Shedding of Skin" & with good reason too because it's an absolute beast of a death/thrash album.
Those of you that are new to Protector will not be left waiting long to find out what they're all about. The inclusion of a short one-minute intro track at the beginning of the record was a strange one as its pleasant new-age atmosphere has no place on an extreme metal release like this one but as soon as the proper songs kick in the listener is subjected to a savage beating like they've rarely experienced before. This album presents Protector's sound as the perfect amalgamation of death metal & Teutonic thrash metal with the death metal component taking the ascendency for the most part. The raw production is perfectly suited to this style of music with the guitars possessing a face-ripping quality that accentuates the aggression in the performances beautifully. The growled vocals of main man Olly Wiebel are deathly & evil which only provides further weight to the fully committed metal assault Protector unleash here with the Hannemann/King style guitar solos generally being saved for the most intense sections of the songs too. The influence of Teutonic thrash bands like Kreator & Sodom is important as the speeds that Protector reach during the thrashier sections is one of the record's main calling cards too.
There are clearly enough highlights included to justify my elite ratings but unfortunately I can't quite get there. The issue is more around quality control as, despite not including any real duds apart from the previously mentioned intro track, "A Shedding of Skin" is definitely a few tracks too long which sees it including a couple more filler tracks than I'd like. I feel that the duo could easily have dropped off two or three of the more thrashy numbers & still comfortably achieved an appropriate run time for a release like this one but, as it is, this is still a very fine death/thrash release that almost got there anyway. Fans of bands like Merciless, Possessed & Poison (the German one) will absolutely froth over this stuff so I hope a few of you will be converted to what is a largely overlooked but thoroughly deserving band.