Captive Audience

Written by: AP on 21/07/2010 17:13:47

Next in line is a Glaswegian progressive/alternative metal project Secondskin to remind us that time after time those hard-spoken Scotsmen outlast their contemporaries down South - whether it be on the battlefield led by William Wallace, or in the music business, with bands that are often more mature, more nuanced, and more refined than their English counterparts. There are exceptions to this rule of course, as many an English group has in the past received tremendous praise from our crew, but generally whatever drops into our mailboxes from Scotland tends to be golden. And as hinted in the opening lines, Secondskin are not about to provide an exception to the rule.

It needs to be said upfront that "Captive Audience" is no easy task. Its songs clock in at nearly six minutes on average and contain more detail than a brain in a hot and humid afternoon would like to permit. There are barrages of nu metal, moments of Karnivool-esque, introspective calm in, and instances of Sights & Sounds-like progressive post-hardcoria to be had here, but little to latch onto for listeners who prefer easy hooks and choruses to guide the way. "Fashion Victim" and "HPID" do provide some accessibility, but the real beef in Secondskin's music is to be found in the more explorative songs, such as "Is This How Far We've Come?", in which the band alternates between whispering quietuses and abrasive metallic barrages, sometimes firing with all cannons simultaneously. With that, perhaps the closest comparison that can be mustered up is a Polish band called Riverside, whom we also afforded high regard. Equally audible is of course the epic songcraft and bombast of Tool, though raising Secondskin to an equal pedestal is out of the question, what with being less keen on providing a true mind trip and more so on bridging the massive gap between progressive rock and nu metal with the aforementioned dualistic approach.

Indeed, Secondskin are miles behind the grandeur masterminded by Maynard James Keenan, but then again, to challenge Tool's throne would take something truly breathtaking. And while Secondskin show tremendous prowess in deploying both anthemic standout singles, epic crescendos that explode into beautifully cathartic passages, and extended progressive metal pieces, "Captive Audience" is hardly breathtaking. It provokes thought and excels at what it aspires to be, but the album's immense length and often subpar vocal department reduce the effect, even if the latter is redeemed somewhat by a transparent, powerful and balanced production mix which allows each member to enjoy equal amounts of shining spotlight. As a whole, "Captive Audience" is difficult to absorb and thereby difficult to remember in detail, and demands some kind of visual experience in order to fully appreciate it. The animations produced by my media player just don't cut it when I feel like I should be floating on Jupiter's surface high on mescalin when listening to this stuff. But then again, that's not necessarily a bad thing, and if Secondskin can provide this type of audio-visual experience in a live setting, then their shows should be something to behold.


Download: Fashion Victim, Triggered Happy, Is This How Far We've Come?, HPID
For the fans of: Earthtone 9, Karnivool, Riverside, Sights & Sounds
Listen: Myspace

Release date 22.03.2010
Basick Records

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