Proving once again that “power trio” isn’t just a descriptive handle from the distant past but a louder-than-God 21st-Century reality, the devastating New York band Skull Practitioners released their first full-length album, Negative Stars, on In the Red Records in January, 2023. The album is the second release for In the Red by the trio — guitarist Jason Victor (who currently plays in The Dream Syndicate), bassist Kenneth Levine, and drummer Alex Baker, following the band’s acclaimed EP, Death Buy, issued in 2019.

The Quietus said, “Perhaps this is what Gang Of Four or Fugazi might’ve sounded like, if they’d been more partial to board-upon-board of multiple guitar pedals.” New York Music Daily asserted “while you can hear elements of the Stooges, the Gun Club and maybe the Chrome Cranks in their music, there is no band who sound like them.” Full Time Aesthetic described “From start to finish, Negative Stars is buried in so many catchy melody layers that erode away and crack in all the coolest places, carrying along with it an underlying hint of doom.”

On Negative Stars, Levine performs “Dedication” and “What Now” and Victor sings “Exit Wounds,” “Leap,” “Intruder,” and “Ventilation.” The album’s expansive instrumental tracks are “Fire Drill” and Skull Practitioners’ longtime club highlight “Nelson D,”. Each player brings something uniquely his own to the mix.

Skull Practitioners have also begun to take to the stage more regularly: they have opened shows for Lydia Lunch, Hammered Hulls, Jon Spencer & The HITmakers, Live Skull, and In the Red label mates The Wolfmanhattan Project (Kid Congo Powers, Mick Collins, and Bob Bert).

Says Levine, “I think the band is represented at its best in a live setting. That’s where we’re in our element. Playing live, we’re out for blood.” Victor adds, “With the live thing, we just want to destroy, in the nicest, most friendly way — we’re nice people. Someone said about us, ‘These guys look like a bunch of accountants.’ People don’t really know what to expect before they hear us. I think they’re all a little surprised, maybe, and we like having that element of surprise – ‘We’re gonna blow your minds a little.’”