When looking back at the lesser known thrash bands of the 80's, it is not common to find a band that should have been an absolute world beater. Num Skull is one such band. Their debut album 'Ritually Abused' blasted on to the underground thrash scene in the same year as well known thrash albums such as 'South Of Heaven' or 'Eternal Nightmare', yet it easily tops both of those, such is the quality of the songwriting, musical performances, and production of this album.
Playing a style of violent and at times hyper-fast thrash not heard from so many bands of those days, Num Skull play with all the fury and speed of bands such as classic Dark Angel, Sadus, and Bloodfeast at their absolute fastest and most furious. The bands mentioned are actually the best guide to the sound of Num Skull, sounding very similar to those bands much of the time in the riffing, vocals, and fast tempos. Yet Num Skull gave all those bands a serious run for their money for songwriting, and easily surpassed them in production, the album's production is that good, it is simply phenomenal for an album from a lesser known band on a small independent label.
Listening to this album, it is a wonder how this band played like fiends possessed with such furious speed, violence, and aggression and execute it all so well and at a level not often heard among the classic 80's thrash bands. With such a strong album, it is also a wonder how on earth this band did not get better known and signed by a label like Combat or Metal Blade, such is the quality of this album. Perhaps what played a role was the fact that Num Skull were from Chicago, which did not have as well known a scene or characteristic sound as those of the SF Bay Area or NY thrash scenes of the day. Nonetheless, 'Ritually Abused' is one of those unhailed classics of 80's thrash that has gotten more recognition in the old school thrash revival era of recent years than it did back in its day.
Better late than never for this great album to get the recognition it always deserved now that is has been re-released officially by Relapse Recs, and there are also some unofficial versions circulating. It is difficult to pick stand out tracks, they are all that good, but personal faves would be 'Kiss Me, Kill Me', 'Turn Of A Screw', 'Death And Innocence', and the title track. Get this and prepare to be thrashed into oblivion. [Originally written for Devoured Death fanzine #2, published Feb 2022]