Skin Drone is an odd mixture of extreme metal that hails from both Boston, and my home state of Arkansas. The Arkansas part was left off (for reasons unknown) but according to my press release, this is indeed the case. At any rate, this collaboration creates what I can sanely discern as an extremely complex level of musical insanity which combines the force of grindcore with that of technical death metal. The performance is a bit raw (there are programmed drums as well) but the effort is noticeable and well noted. It’s interesting to note that there are tiny experimental sections which can catch the listener off-guard, but that might be one of the reasons why I felt such an act stood out. Like my own band, this is a two-man effort, with Erik Martin and Otto Kinzel performing everything in a manner of paint-splattered on the wall brilliance that only certain listeners will be able to appreciate. What’s interesting about this record though, is that it’s extremely bipolar. Evocation is built on highs and lows, although it can be fairly abrasive where perhaps subtlety should be exercised. Martin screams like a strained hyena, with slight whispers and even some spoken word parts that all seem to amount to a very personal album, which I feel are the most emotionally telling. You can definitely tell that this gentleman is pissed off at something, and living in Arkansas alone is just enough to do it to you, let me tell you.
It is still a rough effort though and lacks polish, as you might expect. These guys hit hard and they manage the very difficult task of mixing together two very different moods and styles of music, which is commendable. The electronics (yes, there are electronic atmospheres to be found here) work to create a sort of spectral soundscape, even though the drums can sound a little thin (but there’s only so much you can do with programmed drums these days) within the metallic atmosphere of the piece. However, there are sections in which we do hear some melody and even some solos, so there’s definitely still hope for them in that front. I think my biggest problem with Evocation however, is that it doesn’t really sit still. It goes from one piece to another and soon we’re listening to the sounds of nature and the chirping of birds. From a pummeling mass of guitar-static and harsh vocals right into world music is a bit more than some might be able to take, but I definitely approve of their experimentation.
It’s great to hear a band that is going out of their way to sound different than other acts out there, but the formula has not matured yet, and these guys know that. There’s still a lot of work to be done and this feels more like a collection of demo materials than a fully fledged effort. They’ll get better over time if they keep at it and will hopefully find a sound and style that they’d like to sit with. If you’re looking for something that sounds a bit different than what you’re used to, give the record a listen. I’d be a fool to tell you that there wasn’t promise here, and I appreciate any act that thinks out of the box in the way that these two gentlemen have done. Yet indeed, this is only the point of evocation and now the real work begins. (The Grim Lord)