Skin Drone – Evocation
Otto Kinzel & Erik Martin
- Scarlet Road
The song starts out with a subtle drum roll out and then they waste no time blasting the doors down and getting right into the gritty extreme/grinding industrial spirit of things. Right from the get go, you will be head banging right along with the beat. I like the guitar tone also, it has an old school buzz to it that gives the song some character. Right around the 1:27 mark the song drops out to the sound of some atmospheric sounds and then whisper clean vocals “ another night passes , another victim left to find their way to hell” is heard and then it’s not long before they go back into full force. The song slows down once more about halfway through and they come out around the 3:56 mark back into a similar riff used in the beginning of the song.
- God Complex
The song starts out with what sounds like an orchestral arrangement and then before you can acclimate to that they explode with blast beats and chugging guitars. This song actually reminds me of Winter solstice many of you probably have no idea who that is, but they put out a killer album about ten years ago and fell off the face of the earth. Its songs like this that bring floods of memories of other great sounds and bands I have heard over the years. I won’t lie this song is going to be a rollercoaster for many. It hits hard and fast, and then they slow it down quite a bit for a section, but go right back into the hard and fast approach. This is where the Experimental tag comes from I am assuming. Normally I don’t care for “Experimental” because half the time it does not sound good. However, I am really digging this track.
3. Death Sentence
Some spoken dialogue with vocal effects kick the song off, and the song gets hard and fast quickly. I just can’t get passed the guitars and drums, the vocals are good don’t get me wrong. But these guys are really trying to give us whiplash with the changes they make and how it will go from a heavy section to a funky sequence around the: 54 mark and then back into something much heavier at the 1:09 mark. But you can’t help but really get locked into the schizophrenic styling’s of this song and enjoy yourself trapped in your own mental asylum while listening to the song and getting the imagery it creates for the listener.
4.Shepard Of The Damned
The sound of a record player with the needle dropped and record spinning can be heard as that sounds gets louder, vocals join in not quite muffled but layered under the record player sound. It is done so subtly, that the end product is very easy to follow along with and enjoyable. This song is not as fast paced in the beginning as the previous two tracks but that doesn’t last too long before they go right into steamrolling over you with grinding blast beats and guitars. Right at the 4:48 mark the double bass roll, is perfect, rapid crushing bass for that section before the song starts to mellow out again.
5. Ghost Reflection
Sounds of nature can be heard, a woodpecker and other birds for the first 15 seconds or so, and then acoustic guitar and stringed instruments play out a nice serene melody. This is much like an instrumental interlude and at 3:29 minutes long it really doesn’t feel like it. It’s a nice little track to listen to in between songs.
6. City Lights
This song starts out with an industrial feel, and I am digging the drums for that opening section just as the vocals join in. The vocals are low and more guttural than previous tracks giving you a sense of the vocal range happening on this album. What I like about this song, is that it’s not trying to be the heaviest, but has a solid stance on what the ratio of melodic to heavy should be in this song. Of course as a drummer I will be focusing more on the drums and I really like how the drums are for the entire song, and how they get more industrial right before the end.
7. Witching hour
There is a groove about this song just after the opening sequence that you can really get into. The vocals are in the mid to high range, I am not taking anything away from them, I will say I could easily enjoy this as an instrumental also. Because while I am listening to the vocals, I am paying more attention to the drums and guitars and going along with every change they transition in and out of. I’m thinking this could be a fan favorite just by listening to it. There is a lot going on, but not too much to the point you just can’t follow it. It’s like controlled chaos, and I can get behind that real easily. All the way to the jazzy section right around the 3:00 minute mark, I am really digging this.
8. Darkness Within
A piano starts this song out, with some whispered vocals for the first few minutes before the drums and guitars come in. and I gotta say, as basic as the guitars are right here, there is something about it that I am really enjoying. It’s like a little bit of echo but there is something about that with the tone of the guitar that really makes the song sound like what you would expect by the title. What I like is that they throw in a few brief sections of double bass rolling heavy guitars and harsh vocals.
Ahhh the final track begins with a guitar melody playing and whispered vocals. With the drums playing a beat that really follows the guitars and vocals well. Its part hard rock, part tribal, and part modern metal. I am really enjoying the turn the song takes at the 1:41 mark. This has me tapping my foot and thinking about throwing some haymakers. The 5:00 minute mark is a highlight of the track where the song abruptly goes into heavy dizzying circle pit detonator. This is the longest song on the album. And it covers everything from dark melodic, to industrial, death metal, and pretty much everything in between, except polka.
All in all I will say that this does not sound like a two man band. What I mean is that the mixing and mastering was done so well that if you did not know Skin Drone’s line up you really would not be able to tell its only two guys. The album does not display only one form of heavy music, but blends several different styles together creating this rather unique dare I say experimental metal band. I tend to stay away from using the term experimental metal because I have come across “experimental metal” bands that sound awful. Whether it is so far out of having a sound that you can follow, or the production sounds like it was done in the back alley next to a McDonald’s dumpster. This is not the case for Skin Drone, the production was clean and professional, the style is easily enjoyable. The way they can go from playing something heavy to something jazzy back to something heavier than before, then mellowing out, taking the listener on a musical rollercoaster ride.– 7/10 \m/
The two that make up the band, One being the man behind Bluntface Records himself Otto Kinzel, and Erik Martin. Luckily I was able to catch up with Otto about the Skin Drone release as well as what Bluntface Records has planned for 2016.
1) So Otto, how did the idea of Skin drone come about? Is this something you have had been working on and then brought Erik on board, or vice versa?
Otto: Erik and I met when his other band, Critical Dismemberment, was involved with a compilation Album my label (Bluntface Records) was releasing. I really liked their music and I reached out to them, to see if they would be interested in working with the label on more releases. I got to know both Erik and his bandmate Chase Fincher pretty well. It just naturally flowed in terms of what we had in common and our musical and non-musical interests. It was a natural step to start collaborating on music. I had been working on a version of Skin Drone for awhile and had been trying to get it off the ground, but with no luck. So when I finally reached out to Erik to see if he would be willing to give it a shot at doing vocals, I figured I had nothing to lose. Luckily, he hit a home run with his performance! That song ended up being Witching Hour and it kicked everything off in our collaboration.
2) Listening to this album, I have to say, if there ever was a band to really bend sub-genres to form a unique sound. I’d say Skin Drone is like the matrix of metal sub genres. What were the influences for the album?
Otto: We each have so many influences that it’s almost impossible to list them all. We knew we wanted to challenge ourselves in both the performances and the songwriting. There’s a lot of elements from technical-death metal in there but also a lot of industrial and avant-garde influences as well. We wanted to take a lot of big risks, as far as extreme metal goes. That included trying to use a lot of darker, more ambient and dissonant type sounds. We want the listener to think of the songs in a different way; for it to feel more like scenes from a movie.
3) The sound is amazing, I know you (Otto) have some experience under your belt. This album sounds amazing, I always look at sound quality as a big part of my review process, and this album sounds great. The quality is great, where did you guys do the recording and mastering. How long did it take from start to finish?
Otto: Erik and I each have our own recording studios in our homes, so all the tracking was done between those two. After all the basic tracking was done, I did the majority of the editing and production related stuff. After that, we hired Chase Fincher to do the mixing and mastering. He did a fantastic job and we could not be happier with his work. The three of us had a lot of discussions beforehand about the theme of the album, the type of sound we were going after, the goals we had for the finished product. And Chase took those notes and really made them into his own goals. I can’t praise his efforts enough, Chase really is the guy who tied the whole thing together and helped craft the finished sound you’re hearing.
4) I have read a few of the reviews for the album so far, and the general consensus is the unpredictability of the music. Were you guys really going for that sound of musical schizophrenia? Or when they ideas came together did you feel that they had to blend the way to achieve what you wanted from the album?
Otto: That’s hard to say because on some level I think we subconsciously wanted to make the album really challenging for the listener. We wanted to create something that forced the listener to pay attention to what was going on & have to go back and listen several times in order to “get it”. But having said that, all of the songs and all of the various layers we have within them came about very naturally. Once Erik and I got into the creative zone, it just flowed. That’s not to say that this process was easy, because it wasn’t. Writing these songs and recording the album was very difficult. It took a long time and involved a lot of self-editing and revision. We worked our asses off on it. But it was always fun and always incredibly rewarding creatively.
5) Lastly, and I ask this of many bands, but I feel it’s a very pertinent question in regards to the music. Is there anything you want to tell the listeners about the album? For example, when listening to the album, would you recommend listening to the album while glancing at an unopened bottle of vermouth, or that a specific sound on the album is actually a fire extinguisher. Maybe a disclaimer, people who suffer from epilepsy should be warned, etc. Anything that you want the listeners to imagine while listening to the album or specific song. Or simply that this is just the beginning, and that Skin Drone is here to bend the rules, and create new sub genres within metal.
Otto: Haha, my only suggestion would to listen to Evocation with headphones. Chase did an amazing job with the stereo panning of within the mixes and there is so much subtle layering that a lot of the smaller “detail” type sounds we have interwoven within the mix can get lost if it’s being played at really loud volumes on huge speakers. This is a “headphone” album all the way. We want you to turn it on, turn off the lights so you’re sitting in the dark, put on the headphones and lose yourself in the music. Let us take you on a dark journey and come out the other side with you.
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