The Scars Between Us
posted on 9/2009 By:
Seriously. Skinlab? Really? Alrighty then.
Truth be told, I bought and enjoyed Disembody: The New Flesh when it first came out way back when, followed by a used copy of their decent Eyesore EP, a Limited To 5,000 Numbered Copies *ahem* “exclusive” that you can still find in used bins everywhere right alongside Nerve Damage. There was a certain mindless charm, a bit of addictive catchiness, some crushing riffs, and a few cool vocal hooks to hang on for a while with those two releases, but after the post-Nu-Metal sheen was scrubbed off those sour apples, it was as appetizing as dirty ass. Skinlab was unique, even slightly unconventional for about 30 seconds by being a poor man’s MachineHead, but now things have just gotten sad. Unless their groove-laden style of 90’s-ish thump and grind was already high on your musical list of things to do, then I’d suggest you flee this the way Mastodon fans flee soap, water, and toothpaste before a concert…like death itself is chasing you, and gaining rapidly.
From the forgotten land of Slipknot riff rehash comes The Scars Between Us, bursting at the seams with tough-guy-with-a-sensitive-side vocals, sleepy Nu-Metal breakdowns, and overactive sense of worth. This truly isn’t personal, I have no beef or issue with anyone in the band, their style, or anything they’re doing, this just isn’t great music. It’s neither nostalgic, nor current, instead falling onto a crevasse of Korn-y / MachineHead blah. Even when breaking into what they do best, which is in-your-face groove with a hyperactive drum salvo, the stop button leers, practically begging to be hit. It’s tired, overdone, and useless. Granted, Skinlab have always used breakdowns, but the few and far between worth remembering are miles apart. And the fun just keeps on stopping, as “Karma Burns” is, without a doubt, one of the most intensely boring “ballads” I’ve ever heard, with all the textured ebb and flow of a clogged sewer pipe. The “Second Skin, New Flesh” of this particular album, drawled, lazy vocals and a stunningly uneventful main groove make this a genuine highlight among the banality that surrounds it. Hell, the musicianship isn't even very tight, and the muddled, unbalanced production certainly does the band no favors.
You would think since Nerve Damage came out that they would have gotten a clue by now. You can do an awful lot with a potent rhythm section as long as you can master even the simplest sense of catchiness and paint it different colors, but instead they choose to color this whole album grey. Why did they even bother digging up this lame horse from its grave? I’m sure their local friends, family, fellow bands they gig with, and clients of whatever tattoo shops they work at will defend and adore this chore of an album to the end, but I have no use for it, or their attempt at relevance in an age where bands like Baroness, Kylesa, and Intronaut have taken groove places that make Skinlab sound even more unimportant. Their attempts at conveying emotion only sound depleted, and the crush of those thunderous Eyesore riffs is now quite extinct.
Pick your best adjective for dull, soppy, sloppy, or hobbled, and it will fit The Scars Between Us like a condom. Please, don’t reproduce. It wouldn’t even be so bad if they had some energy, some fire, or just a little authentic passion to freshen their sound, but instead it sounds like they were struggling for ideas right in the middle of their outdated songs (“Face Of Aggression,” “In For The Kill”). It’s ironic that one of their most annoying, throat-clogging tunes is entitled “Still Suffering,” since I don’t know how any of this limping, monotone dreck can be viewed as anything above miserable. So, I must give it the lowest recommendation I can live with. My apologies to all of their worldwide fans, but I’d happily be raped by a school of orca rather than fill my ear with this disc again willingly. It’s worse than bad, it’s offensively bland, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes and goes as quickly and passively as a whisper on the wind. Avoid with force.
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