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Lower Forty-Eight | Skin Failure (Monotreme)
Ooh! A record that's genuinely hard to initially categorise using traditional genre pigeonholes; how exciting! Only 'Skin Failure' isn't quite as exciting as it first appears, and subsequently becomes a little easier to lump in with a few other releases. Opener If I Dare may well rattle with intensity bordering Planes Mistaken For Stars' incredible Fuck With Fire, and A Pornstar's Afterlife may whiff of Cave In circa Jupiter, albeit with a heart of cold steel, but on the whole the album's longevity is questionable. There's no doubt that this Californian (I think ?? they began by playing shows in the San Francisco Bay Area) trio make a considerable first impression, but after a fifth listen or so you're unlikely to be returning to them for some time. Andy Lund's hit and miss vocals (a Gared-from-PMFS-like screech at their best) also make for periods of particularly uneasy listening (some of the lyrics are atrocious, as the song titles may suggest). Hints of great ideas litter the likes of Unrequested Fission Surplus and Echolalia, but there's a distinct lack of cohesion binding these ideas together. Thus, little snippets of genius float by aimlessly amongst fairly traditional punk/hardcore song structures (the band claim to utilise elements of progressive rock, but evidence is few and far between) without making the impression they deserve. So, whilst this is an interesting release that'll provide a worthy distraction from the norm for post-hardcore/punk fans looking for a little creativity amongst the expected aggression, 'Skin Failure' is hardly going to set anyone's heart alight in the long term. Consider this a titillating fling rather than a full-blown relationship.

Mike Diver
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003

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