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Album Review: Secondskin - Captive Audience

With post- and prog-rock’s fanbase gaining steady momentum thanks to the likes of And So I Watch You From Afar and Explosions In The Sky (whose music can currently be heard on BBC Four documentaries practically every single night), a new breed “experimental” bands, ranging from the good, to the bad, and the downright sonically ugly have flooded the UK, and despite their apparent ten year life span, Glasgow’s Secondskin have released their debut album at the perfect time to ride the crest of this wave. “Captive Audience” combines the subtleties and textures of post-rock with elements of groove-metal and some good old fashioned chugging, drawing similarities to Deftones’ latest output.

Pawned Life” kicks things off with a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Metallica track, before dropping out into a more delicate, refined guitar line. This juxtaposition of loud and chuggy and quiet and twiddly is used throughout the album, and the guitarists are unquestionably talented, with some hauntingly beautiful music providing the backing for similarly haunted-sounding vocals. Unfortunately the vocals can’t quite live up to the musicianship on display, sounding weak by comparison. There are occasionally some decent harmonies and the odd demonic roar (particularly evident in “Is This How Far We’ve Come”, with said roar almost making this reviewer jump out of his seat) thrown into the mix but on the whole the vocals lack the power needed to match the instrumentation.

However, that instrumentation really is impressive. The drumming manages to sound off-kilter and loose without being sloppy and out of time, and when it all kicks in the double-pedalling on offer is undoubtedly enough to cave chests in a live setting. The title track showcases this heavier side of Secondskin with pride, and the power it brings with it is reminiscent of Exit Ten in its combination of melody and brutality.

Unfortunately, where “Captive Audience” falls down is in its uniformity. The structure of all twelve of the tracks soon becomes predictable and monotonous, with all the tracks seeming to blend into one by about halfway through. At over an hour the album could have done with some pruning or even being split into two EPs in order to keep things sounding fresh, as it soon becomes all too easy to predict exactly when the next tempo or style change is going to come. Despite the confident and potent start, the album soon trails off, along with the listeners thoughts.

All in all this is a positive and accomplished starting point for the band, and should they return with a few more varied ideas under their belt, they could certainly become ones to watch in the near future.


'Captive Audience' by Secondskin is released on March 22nd on Union Black records Records.

Secondskin on MySpace

Tom Connick

Alter The Press!