SKINNER - SLEEPWALKERS (Dead Inside Records)
Several years ago, Norman Skinner took me by surprise as singer in a band called Machine Called Man. At Metal To Infinity webzine, their way of Power Metal grabbed us by the throat, partly thanks of the quirky voice of Norman himself. MCM disbanded but this brilliant vocalist won’t take no for an answer, as years passed by, he collaborated with many other bands such as the mighty Imagika with which he recorded four superb albums between 2005 and 2010. Unfortunately, the story of Imagika came to an end which meant a loss for all those hooked on the mighty forces of US Power/Thrash Metal. The end of another great Metal band but as for Mr. Skinner, he’s a fighter determined to achieve his goal whatever it takes. He also offers his outstanding vocals skills to the following bands: Tramontane (1995-present), The Consequence Of Chaos (2010-present)…two bands I’m not familiar with actually. There are also two other formations Norman is involved with named Dire Peril (2012-present), Hellscream (2012-present) and since 2010, he’s the lead singer in Skinner ! Two years from here, they released its first cut “The Enemy Within”, a genius Power/Thrash Metal EP loaded with explosive material only. Each band this guy is contributing with, you’ll be excited and overwhelmed by something really big called purebred shredding US Metal !
So the EP was real good but as expected, Skinner’s new effort called “Sleepwalkers” exceeds all boundaries… without a doubt, this album will end up high in my personal album Top 20 list of 2014. And again, Norman is surrounded by a bunch of the most highly qualified musicians. Here’s a small background history of the guys involved: Guitar player Robert Kolowitz (ex-Blackstorm/Imagika/Hellhound) is accompanied by his own son, second Skinner guitarist Grant Kolowitz. This young aged lad apparently had a good teacher by the name if his own father, the guitars on Skinner’s new album “Sleepwalkers” are breathtaking ! The brilliant bass actions be effected by Jim Pegram, I also notice a third guitarist called Alfred Luis San Miguel (Harum Scarum/Punisher). Noe Luna (3Lunas) was appointed to display his drumming skills which was a real good choice. Long story short, a world class singer, three finger scorching/full skilled riff/solo vendors and a bass player, drummer reflecting a very high quality content… here’s Skinner and their overwhelming new album entitled “Sleepwalkers”.
This incisive killer album opens with the ephemeral instrumental ‘Firebird’s Lament’, actually a short introduction to warm up the players right before the real work begins by ‘Sleepwalkers’ where US Power and Thrash Metal rule as one in its purest form. After a smooth transition, we have to deal with something really explosive right from the start. The guitar riffs going technically fast while the leads to let hear that we are dealing with a bunch of superstar musicians. Melodic, solid and perfect in very detail… keep in mind that the band consists of three guitarists fighting each other with like-minded qualities. I’m truly overwhelmed about the guitar works and am even more taken by the throat as soon as Mr. Norman Skinner opens up his mouth. There is something I can’t explain about Norman, I mean this guy’s voice is so special/unique due to his wide range of vocal abilities, there is only one person I’d like to compare him with, Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth) ! Next track ‘Orphans And Liberty’ takes a more progressive/epic direction starring once again outstanding vocals and also the solidarity between three axemen still reigns supreme. To underline how good they are, I would like to refer to the instrumental part halfway through the song… magnificent ! Of course I also have a great respect for the bass and drum works this album has in promotion, Skinner’s “Sleepwalkers” album almost has nothing to offer I can’t appeal. All of the present pieces have a magical value to me. Am I exaggerating? Hell no I don’t !
Skinner once again brings down the hammer with a deadly force during the Power Metal neck breaker called ‘Blind Led Blind’. Throughout the entire composition, you will be amazed by the wonderful singing skills of Norman Skinner. If someone can sing a song with such a diverse palette of vocal abilities, my appreciation reaches a limitless value. What a fantastic frontman, what a bunch of awesome instrumentalists… this is why I like US Power Metal so much ! ‘Breathe The Lie’ comes to me like some kind of a moment of inner tranquillity but that’s only temporary, watch out for next Thrash Metal attack ‘Bound’. With an invincible force, Skinner make its name as Bay Area metallers true as can be. All ingredients regarding modern sounding technical thrash are served on a gold plate. I am sure that you will have to gasp for breath to survive this way Metal mayhem… superb !! ‘Miss Agony’ is all about well done US Power Metal, ‘The Breathing Room’ starts with a monstrous guitar riff, a swirling/quite unexpected combination of grunt and Norman’s unique standard vocals. All delivered in a dark progressive manner and in the vein of last one called ‘The Enemy Within’. Harsh to the bone, dark as hell, excellent in all respects !
Well, Skinner just blew me away wit their brand new monster album entitled “Sleepwalkers”. It’s possible that some of you aren’t familiar with Skinner but take it from me, they need a fair chance from everyone longing for outstanding Power/Thrash Metal to check out their stuff. I’m sure that once you’ve heard these SF-Bay Area based Metal merchants, you will purchase their fabulous new cut. Released by Dead Inside Records, a new upcoming label featuring only three Metal artists named Skinner, Hellscream and Dire Peril so far. Check ‘em out one by one right HERE and let speak your US Metal heart, order on the double. Final conclusion about Skinner's "Sleepwalkers": magnificent album that makes me proud to be a US Metal defender at heart ! https://www.facebook.com/skinnermetal
My Points: 94 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish