Review – Skinner: Sleepwalkers

By -
Review – Skinner: Sleepwalkers
  • Bio:
  • Label:
  • Release Date:
  • Genre:
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 43

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 44

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 46

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 47

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 49

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 50

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 52

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 53

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 55

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 56

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 58

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 59

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 61

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 62

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 64

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 65

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 67

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 68

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 70

    Warning: in_array() expects parameter 2 to be array, boolean given in /nfs/c11/h04/mnt/192881/domains/apochs.net/html/wp-content/themes/apoch/single-3.php on line 72

Skinner: Sleepwalkers
Power Metal, Thrash Metal
Dead Inside Records
May 6th, 2014
Release length: 45:50
Facebook
Myspace
ReverbNation
Twitter
Fans of Power Metal and Thrash Metal are more than likely familiar with the members of San Carlos, California’s Skinner. The group formed in 2010 after the disbanding of the long running Imagika, and is forged with the ashes of former guitarist Robert Kolowitz and vocalist Norman Skinner, of whom the band is named after. With the exception of drummer Noe Luna from 3Lunas, the rest of the group appears to have little prior band experience on record, including Grant Kolowitz, Robert’s son, who was only thirteen years old at the time of recruitment. In 2012 the band issued the five song EP The Enemy Within on their own, which was met with moderate praise from fans and critics alike. For 2014, Skinner bring us their debut full-length effort, Sleepwalkers, handled by Dead Inside Records. They also happen to be the only group signed to it, meaning it’s either brand new or something in control by one or all of the band members. But does this new outing pick up where the legacy left off those couple years ago, or does this collection of musicians leave the impression that there’s still time needed to nurture their sound?

Right off the bat, the major fault with Sleepwalkers comes from the audio quality. While the raw sound works to weave a darker tone than what might have been intended initially, there’s just something about it that makes the drums clash slightly with the guitars in a way that seems like there’s some washout, but there really isn’t. It also doesn’t help that the vocals sound a bit thin, causing some of the lyrics to sound mumbled or if spoken with a slight speech impediment that, again, you can tell isn’t actually there. It’s incredibly odd and hard to explain, but perhaps it’s just my perception of the levels and rather blunt sound of everything, or perhaps just poor mastering due to a low budget.

Sleepwalkers also kicks off with a bad omen. “Firebird’s Lament” is a nice little instrumental set-up to the album, carrying a light Folk touch to the guitars and latter war marching drum pattern. It’s a solid performance that is criminally cut too short, even if it is only by a few seconds, making the jump to the title track more of a knee-jerk reaction that is so sudden it pulls you out of the experience for a bit. This quick edit also happens at the start of “Breathe the Lie,” but there it comes off like a hiccup than the whole foundation shaking. “Sleepwalkers” does make up for it, blending together a nice mixture of Gamma Ray aggression with darker Iced Earth overtones. That bleaker touch hurts the chorus a bit though as every build-up to it leads you to expect a much grander enthusiasm than the hushed, slower passage that makes for a better closing than a release of pent up tension and anticipation.

“Orphans of Liberty” manages to pull off that slower chorus a lot better. The drums keep the song grounded in a mid-tempo despite the faster chords that act like a background instrument, shifting into the dismal melody of that passage well with a simple hook that makes the change much more fluid. The drums do pick up after it and for the killer guitar solo that suits the progression of the somewhat conceptual nature of the lyrics. This is one of the most memorable tracks on the release, and will definitely find your coming back just to hear it again. “Guilt-Ridden” has a very sombre tone to the rather basic, yet oddly fantastical sounding music. The softer singing is a nice added touch, but again the audio plays a negative role in it by making them come off incredibly hollow for a short time at the start of the main verses. It’s distracting, and without it they would sound perfect against the grieving atmosphere. “Breathe the Lie” shows what could have been, keeping that hollowness away from the lighter singing before the second half picks up speed and precision and aggression in the guitars that close with a hint of dominance.

“Blind Led Blind” has more of an aggressive touch to the guitars, all while showing a good deal of range in the vocals. The deeper, rougher approach works with the darker tone of the album in general, and it’s a shame they don’t appear a little more often here. There’s also some higher pitched vocals that are well placed to help build some tension to the incredibly infectious chorus, as well as the restrained guitar solo about two minutes and twenty seconds in. That control can be felt in some of the latter sections of “Bound,” though the rest of the performance is your standard harsher Power Metal approach that is executed very well, offering both a crushing experience with little glimmers of hope in some spots, not to mention just an addictive rhythm from start to finish that makes banging your head along nearly impossible to fight.

But of all the songs on the album, it’s “The Breathing Room” that’s the ugly duckling. Skinner’s vocal range is on display again, but it isn’t quite as dynamic. It’s just a mixture of shouting with soft clean singing in the chorus. Sadly this only fuels a paint-by-numbers kind of foundation that sounds like your standard Metalcore template, and at times even comes off generic and radio friendly. The guitar solo and material surrounding it is really where the band’s edge comes back into play, and the chorus does have sort of an anthem touch to the music that could easily be mistaken for something on the Alternative Rock side before that richer final passage can push that intent through.

The disbanding of Imagika was an unfortunate event, but it’s great to see that its legacy isn’t completely removed from the Metal world. Skinner‘s debut full-length album has a good deal of flaws and a rather rough audio quality that does at least greatly benefit the overall tone. There’s plenty of potential on display, and most of the issues can be chocked up to bad cosmetic decisions for one reason or another. When you can look past those faults, there’s a solid dark Power/Thrash Metal album just waiting to be discovered. Skinner is a band that you are going to want to keep an eye on and see what the future holds for them, especially if the production values are enhanced on future releases. For now we have Sleepwalkers, and it’s worth opening your ears and pushing aside the rubble to hear what the band really brings to the table.

01. Firebird’s Lament – 1:19
02. Sleepwalkers – 4:43
03. Orphans of Liberty – 5:29
04. Hell in my Hands – 4:02
05. Blind Led Blind – 4:18
06. Guilt-Ridden – 4:20
07. Breathe the Lie – 4:06
08. Bound – 3:54
09. Miss Agony – 4:37
Initial Pressing Score: 7/10

Skinner
Skinner

Digital review copy of this release provided by Online Metal Promo.