Skinless – Progression Towards Evil

Not totally unlike my feelings towards Cephalic Carnage, I enjoy Skinless’ early material quite a bit more than their vastly lauded latter era (though not quite with the bizarre rage I express over Cephalic Carnage).  This, their first debut album, is strangely underappreciated, though not to the weird extent of the oft-benighted ‘Foreshadowing Our Demise’.  I’m not sure why it’s unrecognized; it’s oldschool New York death metal in the vein of a more measured, traditional death metal version of Dying Fetus with a lot of rolling grooves and occasional technical guitar parts, though without that bands Fleshgrind-type penchant for mechanical blasting.  It’s a good if unremarkable record, and I’m not sure why it doesn’t get more attention.

Well, I probably answered my own question in that it’s unremarkable.  This is very typical NYDM all around, with the only thing setting it apart from the pack being a sense of humor (including some eye-rollingly cheesy samples).  It’s all the stranger since Skinless showed up pretty late to the game, popularizing themselves in the late ’90s, so you’d think they’d know better than to repeat the standards of NYDM so literally.  It’s capable and engaging repetition, though, that manages to be relatively interesting despite lacking originality almost completely.  Jungle Rot is a good reference, though Skinless never manages to live up to that band’s sublime retardation.  Riffs are mostly groovy chugs and there’s really a near absence of blasting; you could almost draw a comparison to Six Feet Under in their most active moments.  None of this is probably a ringing endorsement to most reading this, but to be frank, it’s fairly stupid music for people who are stupid or at least like to pretend to be.

It’s really one of those albums where enjoyment is purely based on whether you enjoy the style.  Do you like churning riffs and grooves, ultra-low vocals, and music that doesn’t take itself too seriously?  Then you’ll probably enjoy this.  There’s absolutely nothing that would ever sway a hardened death metal detractor, though, as it has no intention of expanding the paradigm of death metal in even the slightest way.  I’d call it refreshingly honest if I felt more charitable.  Really though the best I can say for it is that it’s sort of NYDM’s ‘Formulas Fatal To The Flesh’; it probably proved to a lot of people that death metal was slowly starting to get back on its feet at the time of this release and encouraged people to go back to low growls about eating people.

Enjoy it for what it is: simple, catchy death metal with no particular goal apart from being exactly what it is.  It’s a success I guess because it’s listenable and rather fun.  I doubt I could hear this a hundred times and be as engaged, but after the past few, it’s still pretty cool, which is all the longevity an album like this needs.

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~ by noktorn on September 7, 2008.

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