Skinless Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead

Three years have passed since 2003’s unexpected From Sacrifice To Survival effort, which polarised the Skinless fan base almost as much as it expanded it. Now, with original drummer Bob Beaulac back behind the kit after a brief flirtation with multi-armed powerhouse John Longstreth, and vocalist Jason Keyser replacing long-time songwriter and front-man Sherwood Webber, the stakes are high. Largely a regression from the more experimental, dynamic material offered on FSTS, while retaining some of the more technical flourishes of that effort, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead suffers from an extremely heavy, yet somewhat overproduced tone that muddies the drums considerably — no doubt an attempt to mask Beaulac’s inability to match Longstreth’s abilities. Additionally, especially in contrast to the last record (which contained clean vocals, acoustic sections and ambient interludes), the entire affair seems strictly by the numbers. Everything is performed adequately, if not exceptionally, but the songs seem a bit flaccid compared to what Skinless are normally capable of. Jason Keyser shows admirable dedication to besting Sherwood’s distinctive contributions to prior recordings, and arguably displays more range than his predecessor, but simply lacks character, especially when supported by only half-decent material. Not a terrible record by any means, but certainly not one to fuss over. Fans should prepare themselves for a disappointment. (Relapse)