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So, it seems our unfortunate prodigal sons have returned. Skinlab, after spending several years knocked out, decided to get back together. Not only that, but they decided to release some new material to the public in the hope that they could prove that they were still relevant, that they could still kick it with the newcomers. Well they can't. They tried to up their game and deliver a little bit of genuine rage this time around to convince people they were actually worth a spin, and they failed. This album is as bland and boring as a sandwich with just the bread, as watching concrete dry, as wandering across a vast grey desert of nothing. While certainly a return to form from the atrocious Revolting Room, honestly, was there any form to return to?
Musically, this album is heavier than their previous releases, but is it any better? No, while faster and angrier this album doesn't really deliver at all. Steev's vocals are terrible as ever, he has gained no skill or intensity at all. The guitars are also tuned in a way that they are dull, and despite being low pitched, lack impact. The album also has these extra tracks of Steev doing his signature silly yells over the main vocals which hint at a heavy computerized presence in this recording. This album suffers from a lack of any dynamics or memorability, that coupled with the aforementioned dull guitars leads to a very stale sounding release. The song titles and structures are very generic with titles like "My Vendetta," "In For The Kill," and "Still Suffering" that often rely around the verse-chorus structure of their music with little variety or truly memorable grooves. This music is throwaway material and could be played by just about any forgettable groove metal or rock and roll act. It's boring, general, and nondescript.
The songs themselves are not written well, but while it may be a little heavier this time around, the added muscle doesn't make up for the lack of strength. The first song just charges in with no buildup and roars in your face. It then goes on to give a simple main riff that may jar you but won't stick with you or keep you entertained too long. Even so, it does have a choice breakdown at the end that passes the mark. Amphetamine God pounds and mashes on and on and can get your head banging for about 30 seconds before the monotony and lack of dynamics becomes evident. Scream At The World is just a one-riff slog that goes on for far too long and is flatter than a tit-less girl. It throws in a few half-assed distortion effects and solos to fool your ears, but it will likely fail and return you back to the droll of the main riff. Wolvesblood and In For The Kill are okay with a decent, driving riff and fast pacing. Karma Burns is your generic mellow song with Steev clean singing like a drunk Nigel Thornberry plus an annoying studio glitch-trick midway through that has him going "A-A-A-A-A-A-A-AAAAH!" You know, the kind of garbage you hear in pop albums where the singer's voice skips? Yeah, that shows up here. Paper Trails even has this stupid Slipknotty opener with circus-like guitar effects and riffs ripped straight from Slipknot and nu metal vocals and distortion effects. Come on guys, I thought you were over this. Still Suffering is another ballad later on where Steev does this dumb drunk cry-singing and unfortunately, the instrumentation on this one is actually pretty good, it's just that Steev ruins it with his drunk-ass vocals.
Honestly, these songs sound like all the kinds of songs that Robb Flynn wrote as piss-takes while he was goofing off and later realized, "These are stupid and boring, nobody'll want to hear this!" and so he throws the songs in the trashcan and Esquivel just happens to be there scrounging when he comes upon the songs and uses them to cobble together an all around bland and blah album.
The Scars Between Us is an exercise in mediocrity and deserves no recognition at all. It is an uneventful chore of an album to sit through and it is just so vapid and uninspired that it makes me want to wash my ears out with two straight hours of classic groove metal like Burn My Eyes, Cowboys From Hell, or Astro Creep, at least those albums know what being catchy, punchy, memorable, lasting, relevant, tough, or sharp is all about; not this sullen excuse for an album. This is monochromatic with no variation and should not be touched upon by anyone looking for a decent take on the groove metal genre. Let's hope it's Skinlab's last so I don't have to sit through another one of their boring, vapid, dilapidated albums.
:NOTE: I wrote this review upon it's release. I think I may have been to harsh but upon further examination....I was being WAY to kind. Here's the up-dated version of such said review.
When such a fanbase that is known for such low standards in music and life-based below mediocrity expectations....that's just fucking sad.
Want to know just how terrible this album is? It sold less than Anvil in 1993. It sold less than the newest Ektomorf. It sold less than a re-union of Tokyo Blade. It sold so terribly bad it didn’t even qualify as a fucking sale. But then again this is Skinlab and a band like them isn’t really based on album sales or pushing units. No. For a band like Skinlab it comes down to one of two things; catering to the lowest common denominator and whatever is the latest musical trend or band to try to ride the coat tails in hopes of being big fucking rock stars.
When I say catering to the lowest common denominator, I mean referring to their ratty fucking audience and/or whatever fan base that have/had. A band like Skinlab started out with more open doors than a lot of others band early in their career and generally a bigger crowd because they were friends with Machine Head, and Robb Flynn helped get them signed to Century Media. Much and many of these fans came from the macho-posturing Pantera fan base, and the other half come from the Korn/Nu-Metal crowd looking for that next general jump-da-fuck-up riff. Both of these two fanbases converging and looking for a central theme within a band like Skinlab will have one thing in common; Both suck. With that out of the way, let’s jump onto the other thing that has hindered Skinlab's attempt from making anything half-way decent in their entire 14 year career; their amazing ability to basically re-create every other band’s image and sounds except of writing shit on their own. To make a long story short, Skinlab started-out around the same time Machine Head released “Burn My Eyes” and jumped onto the groove-metal/half-thrash trend. Whatever Machine did musically, Skinlab followed close behind them.
In the worst of cases, on their new album Skinlab seem to try to mix their shitty brand of 90’s groove Metal with every riff that was made by metalcore acts between 2004-2008. In other words if this had came out in 2004/2005, they would still have a chance at doing better. It's 2009 and they have been out of commission for several years now. Even that said, right when this album was released, lead singer Steeve Esquivel started his pity-sob-woe-is-me-tortured-artists-bullshit excuses. "Oh the music industry sucks." "Nobody gives us a chance", "e have to fight for everything we get." etc.etc. Then within the same interview he proclaims that, and I quote from an article: "But, yeah, not everyone can be FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH or LAMB OF GOD. You have to go out, you have to do your best — nothing is a given."....upon reading this I was sitting on a pile of bricks that I had shat out of my trousers. So now Skinlab wants to sound like Lamb of God and Five Finger Death Punch??? What more is there to say? “The Scars Between Us” is a sad case of a band who lost their ability to re-create other band’s music. Only reason I gave it a one percent rate is that the one is divided by two reasons; A half a point for sound quality which is decent and the other half for the song titles which have gotten better. Yeah. I couldn‘t believe Skinlab had the ability to write better song titles. “Amphetamine Gods," "Scream At the World," "In For the Kill" are definitely a long way from the piles of melodramatic Machine Head-worship shit titles like “Paleface," "Down," or even “Know Your Enemies.” Production and sound quality is all pro-tooled out of the yin-yang. But sound quality and decent song titles alone doesn’t pay the bills, being able to create your own music and being able to have a career does. Maybe lead singer Steeve Esquivel's other crappy band Defiance, OR his new side-project DEDVOLT, which is standard douchebag radio rock, will be able to sell more than 350 copies.
Upon admitting that that Skinlab INDEED rides the coattails of whomever the media is praising at the moment, I at least give them respect for being honest. It must be extremely hard for these guys to look at themselves in the mirror and seeing themselves now in their late 30's/early 40's playing in shit hole bars and clubs with their brand of music that is HOPEFULLY and will be forgotten and buried in time and dust. This is not the worst album ever, that title is usually reserved for the lowest of the low in the 9th circle of music hell (next to Nickleback, Creed, Limp Bizkit, Five Finger Death Punch, etc.), but this album is going to an even worst place than that; the bargain bin that nobody looks at. If you do comes across this album for $1, use that dollar to say, give to a homeless person, get yourself a Coca-Cola, just USE that dollar for whatever else even if it means paying your own hand to go fuck yourself on a sunny afternoon. Just forget this band and album ever existed and pray to the almighty heavenly father above that this type of music goes nowhere. You have been warned.