Saturday, 24 July 2010

Skin Chamber - Trial (1993) 78/100.


I was more than a bit impressed with Skin Chamber’s introduction to their torturous brand of Godflesh inspired industrial metal but, as the dust settled and the debut, entitled ‘Wound’, began to properly sink in, I found that, after exploring the sophomore in recent months, that ‘Trial’ is a more concerted effort on the part of the band, using catchier songs and faster tempos to attract a new audience, whilst remaining loyal to the old timers by still pressing hard with the torturous style of the vocals and, on a number of occasions, the instrumentation -- particularly the guitars, a pivotal aspect of any metal band. ‘Wound’ left a great impression of me, but has dwindled in comparison to the more accessible ‘Trial’, an album that seems to show a lighter side akin to that which Godflesh developed towards the middle and end of their career. Taking into account songs like ‘Throb’, the band focus more on entertaining and central guitar riffs, rather than slow build-ups and a fierce atmospheric showing.

Although ‘Wound’ was an incredible feat for such a young act, the raw power of the release has made it the least accessible of the two. Its doomier feel probably plays a huge part in its overall downfall when compared to that of ‘Trial’ which, with songs like ‘Throb’, has an airier sound with more entrancing guitar riffs and songs to nod your head to. Although ‘Wound’ was by no means mediocre, it showed a sheer lack of variety in places and didn’t allow for too much experimentation to unfold with the better parts of that experimentation being confined to short songs like the upbeat ‘Skin Me’. Again drawing back to the colossal ‘Throb’, the band have focused more this time round on songs which flow more fluidly due to the intoxicating riffs and entrancing vibe that comes from a quicker tempos and more upbeat atmospherics, despite the fact that the vocals have remained largely the same.

As with the debut, song writing and musicianship are rarely called into question as Skin Chamber ease themselves into the listeners mind with powerfully screamed vocals and a stern amount of distortion, something which gives the album an incredible back bone to build upon. Although I would consider the debut to be a consistent performer, most of the plaudits go to ‘Trial’ for being able to experiment and get away with it. Continuing on from songs like ‘Throb’, ‘Bleached Bones’ also takes on a more infectious style, building upon the earlier catchy feel by swelling the atmosphere with more infectious riffs and even some wonderful solos, something which comes into affect half-way through the incredible ‘Bleached Bones’ and takes hold of the inner child within the listener, causing them to rise from their seat and air guitar furiously to the upbeat style. Though a dark atmosphere still lingers over the album in general, songs like the aforementioned two manage to give the record a far less bleak outlook than the crushing debut.

Even the bass has a less restricted viewpoint on songs like ‘Bleached Bones’, taking a less cautious approach and joining in with the guitars to produce moments akin to bands like Death, who used bass incredibly. Of course, Skin Chamber are hardly anything like Death, but I was certainly reminded of Death’s genial use of bass during the aforementioned song, something which shows that the musicians have been keen to improve the downbeat song writing to allow a little more expansion to take hold in terms of improving upon the mood of the album by supplying its audience with upbeat riffs. This isn’t to say Skin Chamber don’t resort back to the sound which dominated on ‘Wound’ because songs like the aptly titled ‘Torturous World’ are slow, heavy and resigned to a more repetitious fate than certain other songs. In some cases, some elements have remained largely the same on this sophomore to how they were on the debut, so don’t go expecting an album far removed from the debut.

The bass is still very hidden and doesn’t tend to rear its ugly head from behind the guitars, though as a backing instrument, we don’t really need it to. The percussion is largely monotonous with an echoing texture with songs like ‘Sloven’ becoming the best representation of this type of play. The vocals usually stay the same. Either we’re dealing with low screams, or distorted screams that somewhat remind me of a watered down version of the black metal rasp. On occasions, the two are combined, though this is a sparse aspect of the album. Towards the middle and end of the album, the pace does slow down considerably with songs like the arduous ‘Glisten’ taking over from the upbeat, energetic songs from earlier on. These are more akin to the debut than the first few which appear on ‘Trial’ and are considerably less enjoyable. Slow, repetitious and drawn out, these songs put a downer on the lighter feel of the earlier songs. In general though this is a good sophomore with perhaps better developed songs with more experimentation occurring. However, with songs like ‘Glisten’ pounding in the message that Skin Chamber aren’t about to end of a soft note, the album does feel almost identical to the debut in parts.


No comments:

Post a Comment