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Thrashing SkinnerS - 77%

GraveWish, September 16th, 2012

“The Enemy Within” is American power/thrash metal combo Skinner’s debut self-released studio mini-album. Let me start out by saying that actually I’m a fan of the power/thrash metal subgenre, but unfortunately as you listen more and more to a genre you get jaded. As a matter of fact, take a first glance at Skinner and you will inevitably notice that they are from the San Francisco Bay Area. A second glance will evidently reveal that they play old-school thrash metal with modern influences. Add these two observations together and beyond a shadow of a doubt you will conclude that they must sound like any number of bland Metal Church or Iced Earth impersonators. By happy chance, you would be mistaken. The point is that “The Enemy Within” is like a surprise knockout blow straight to the face. On the one hand, one cannot help but notice that this album is quite propulsive, engaging and often heavier-than-genre-standard sound American power/thrash metal record. On the other hand, I must admit that this CD was a bit underwhelming for me as I was essentially expecting an album with more experimentation and complexity. Notwithstanding, I’m not exactly dissatisfied.

More than any other metal subgenre, power metal is highly focused on the vocalist. De facto, Norman Skinner is a good singer; his voice is strong and well controlled. On this record, melodic clean singing and shouted vocals garnished with short-end growls are used. In mixing thrash into its sound, Skinner takes some of the pressure off its vocalist via aggressive, attention-grabbing riffs. Matter-of-factly, “The Enemy Within” contains a tremendous bunch of old-school thrash metal riffs along another bundle of modern yet again ultra-fast thrash metal riffs. All in all, as soon as you play the album prepare to be hit with authentic guitar parts that absolutely combine freshness, technicality and fierceness into a solid force. It goes without saying that the musical composition is conspicuously complex with well-defined structure yet without fail facile and easy-to-apprehend. Furthermore, each member of the band tends to add a creative touch to the album by making things as simple as possible but not simpler. Throughout the album, one cannot help but notice that things are getting progressively more pleasing and fascinating. The closing title track is one of my favorite songs on this record, stomping, heavy riffing and somewhat Nevermore-ish excellent vocals, just admirable! One last thing, given the amount of upcoming modern thrash metal bands, if Skinner aims to be widely recognized among listeners they should certainly experiment further with their sound in order to define an appropriate unorthodox style.

In summation, “The Enemy Within” is one of those albums that is something of a pleasant surprise. There’s no denying that there’s a lot of great music here, but it’s nothing all that new. In my opinion, guitar solos here and there wouldn’t harm. People looking for symphonic influenced European power metal will probably get highly frustrated. If you dig modern thrash metal with an old flavor, you may never regret getting this CD. As I was informed Skinner is currently working on their debut full-length album, I will definitely be waiting the release in order to follow the evolution of the band.