Shadow Syndicate

I have to hand to to Travis Weickum. He has been fronting Colorado’s  Skinned now since 1995 and over the course of 4 albums, 2 splits, some demos and singles, some on labels, many independent. He has been the sole member of Skinned that’s been on all of them amid a whirlwind on members that has included 6 bassists, 6 vocalists and 4 drummers. And here is album number five on France’s new XenoKorp label.

It’s fitting that these guys sit right net to fellow USDM act Skinless on my CD rack, as there are some similarities between Skinless (Circa From Sacrifice to Survival, Trample the Dead Hurdle the Weak, Only the Ruthless Remain) as they both deliver burly American death metal. That said Skinned have little more melody and experimentation that recalls another USDM act called Fisthammer, as they have the same jack of all trades, master of none take on death metal.

The band has shifted from a typical gore, blood and guts American death metal with titles like “Bowel Bong”, “Vomit on it” and “Spooning the Colon Sludge” (also an early Skinless trait)  and has matured into conspiracy theories and real word stuff like “Shadow Syndicate” , “Mental Deconstruction” and “Led to the Trains”. The production is big and polished (courtesy of Dave Otero), the bass throbs,  the guitars crunch, the vocals are deep growls and screams  and everything is tight and punchy, resulting in a solid, if unspectacular release.

Skinned is at their best when slowing down and delivering some good ol’ fashioned mid paced stomps (again….Skinless) as heard on first half of opener “Wings of Virulence” (which even has a nice little unexpected piano bridge and melodic lead) , moments of lurching “As Their Bodies Fall” (featuring Defeated Sanity‘s  Josh Welshman),  and penultimate “Angel’s Haarp” or when they add a little melody such as some subtle keyboards on the otherwise blistering “Metal Deconstruction” or melodic canter of closer “In the Mist of Dawn”. Heck, there’s even an moody instrumental number in “Black Rain”.

The band can speed it up as heard on the almost black-ish metal bursts of “We Are the End”, the rather forgetful title track or the otherwise Dethklok-y groove of  “Hollowed Earth”, but it doesn’t carry the same heft or memorability of the bigger, brasher grooves that litter the album that make this a enjoyable if disposable listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 13th, 2018


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