Right from the onset of the opening title track, Skin is immediately a much more hard-hitting and straightforward affair than Wisdom. Whereas songs on Wisdom were allowed to move at a leisurely pace to allow listeners to breathe in the noxious fumes of 16volt's industrial wasteland, Skin is a far more urgent outing. The fumes have been inhaled, the lungs collapse, and the machine is breaking down around you to bury you in rusted steel and rubble. A stark atmosphere and slow tempo underscores Powell's vocal venom, seething with unrestrained and un-effected aggression as a pummeling assault of organic drums and growling guitars dominates the chorus. Before you know it, the song is concluded, leading into the sinister, repeating sound of a broken doll's laughter that introduces us to the pulsating bass and factory-like loops of Perfectly Fake. Metallic squeals of guitar harmonics resonate above slithering samples to create the ambiance of a decrepit machine in its death throes, while Powell signs in contrasting tones from guttural verses to soft choruses that belie the venom of his lyrics. Similarly, Slow Wreck moves with hollow atmosphere hovering beneath mechanical guitar riffs and atonal feedback howls, all the while the drums march precise and sparse. Along with instrumentals like Skin Graft, Bottle Rockets, and Flick with their loops of percussive power and random, noisy synthetic environments, Skin is pure unadulterated machine rock at its finest.
Uplift with its attack of forceful drum loops and guitars that seem to cough and hack as if gasping for air, and Built to Last with its scathing vocals and aggressive beats and riffs are perhaps the best examples of Skin's speed and power, while Downtime II revisits the slow breaks and creeping subtlety of the original version, removing much of the distortion for a greater clarity in the sonic habitat and especially in the vocals. Included on this rerelease is a dynamic pair of remixes to augment the full breadth of Skin's musical range. Dead Skin, featured as a hidden track on the original Re-constriction release and finally revealed as its own standalone track, takes the brute force of the original song and takes it into more ambient territory with sustained synth pads and Powell's vocals taking on a raspier, whispery quality. Hate Dept.'s remix of Stitched, originally released on the Remix Wars: Strike 3 release from 21st Circuitry, is also included, transforming the song into a much heavier and monotonic barrage of acidic guitars and thundering percussion.
Skin was no sophomore slump for 16volt. On the contrary, after 18 years, Skin is just as freshly vitriolic and caustically aggressive as it was in 1994; a milestone for the industrial rock scene. In short, Metropolis Records' release of Skin is a welcome addition to the 16volt discography and a reminder to the industrial underground what coldwave is meant to sound like.
Listen & Buy
|Built To Last||3:00|
|Girl You'll Be A Woman Soon||4:36|
|Skin (Guitarless Mix)||4:16|