Haters gonna hate, but the sad truth is that Dystopia were towering, immortal gods to me during my formative high school years, and it was not unheard-of for me and my semi-crusty buddies to hop in a car and drive 5 hours to go see them at Gilman on occasion. As a wide-eyed teenager, I had a much higher tolerance for things like stinky dreads and dirty street kids asking me for change to buy booze. Nowadays, not so much. But the tunes still hold up, and in my opinion, the Dystopia tracks present on this album were the best and most brutal that they ever recorded.
Indeed, all of their four songs on this album were part of the Aftermath collection (which I posted a long, long time ago), but the Skaven split works best when ingested as an entire package-- Dystopia's unhinged, misanthropic grind counterbalanced by Skaven's dark, sample-heavy crust-worship. In a way, these bands complement each other perfectly, creating the definitive documentation of what it meant to be a booze-swilling, 18-to-32-year-old East Bay scumpunk in the mid-90's.
Skaven's name, of course, comes from Warhammer's race of man-sized anthropomorphic rat-creatures, whom Wikipedia describe thusly: "In the background of the setting the Skaven are described as a clan-based society in which the number 13 holds important significance. All Skaven pay homage to the Horned Rat, their only deity, whom they worship primarily out of fear of retribution. Skaven are portrayed as sneaky, conniving, selfish, cowardly and backstabbing. They are also closely linked to plague and disease (particularly the Skaven clan Pestilens). The Skaven believe themselves to be superior to all other races, especially those that live above ground.
Despite its large population, the existence of an organised Skaven society is carefully and violently concealed from humans and other races of the Warhammer universe. Even when presented with irrefutable proof, the common man regards them as an urban legend or merely another form of Beastmen, although there is no direct link between the two species. It is a widely held belief that if the Skaven could put aside their in-fighting and distrust of each other, they could potentially take over the world: fortunately their innate paranoia and deceitful, treacherous natures make such an occurrence all but impossible."
But you guys already knew that.