Saturday, August 4, 2007

Review: Skintilla - Shedding Skin (2003)

Skintilla [ Website | MySpace | Facebook ]
Shedding Skin

Australia's Skintilla  is quite an intriguing band. After releasing two albums, the band disintegrated due to irreconcilable differences. Guitarist Jeremy Burgess was the lone member to carry on, and he did so by enlisting some highly talented metal musicians and a vocalist whose style embodies what we all love about the genre. The result of this reformation is the EP Shedding Skin, six tracks of hell-bent heavy metal.

What struck me immediately was the vocal performance of Darren Pretty. Sounding very much like a mix of Dio and Tim "Ripper" Owens, Darren doesn't have fantastic range but he does possess a raw, energetic style that compliments the music perfectly. From growls to shrieks, this guy has a great set of pipes. Musically, a fair comparison is Jugulator-era Judas Priest, though the band has a modernized edge to their sound. Drummer Peter Stewart is a maniac behind the kit, relentlessly pounding the double-bass - and your skull - into submission. His work on "Hate", my favorite track, is phenomenal. Combined with the tight bass lines of Kym Kranixfeld, the rhythm section of Skintilla drives each track with punishing precision. The twin guitar harmonies of Burgess and Jason Beveridge lend quite an '80s thrash feel to the disc, with Lynch-inspired solos placed throughout.

I've already mentioned the high octane "Hate" as being a highlight of Shedding Skin. Immediately following on the heels of that track is "Live the Lie", a close runner-up for my choice of the album. Darren delivers the lyrics in a bit of a shouted, hardcorish style while the guitars lay down some intensely grooving riffs. Definitely the catchiest tune on the disc. The EP closes with "Silence", an acoustically driven ballad that proves the band, and Darren in particular, can slow it down and still deliver a meaningful performance.

Skintilla is a band that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of modern thrash/metal. Even though Shedding Skin has only recently reached North American shores, the disc was released in 2003. It appears that a full-length follow-up is in the works, which should make quite a splash on the metal scene once it arrives.

Track Listing
1 Trust 3:24
2 White Flag Down 3:05
3 This Rage 4:01
4 Hate 3:34
5 Live the Lie 3:37
6 Silence 3:15
Total Runtime 20:56

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Review: J.D. Bradshaw - 3rd Time Around (2006)

J.D. Bradshaw [ Website | MySpace ]
3rd Time Around

Guitarist J.D. Bradshaw is no stranger to perseverance. Launching his musial career with '80s East Coast thrashers Killer Elite, J.D. has spent the last 20 years smoking the stages of his local and regional metal scene. In 1998 he expanded his career by releasing his first solo CD Caught in the Act. Last year his third solo disc, 3rd Time Around, hit the airwaves and proves J.D. hasn't lost a step. The four tracks on his latest EP unabashedly display J.D.'s influences while managing to remain fresh and entertaining. The comparisons to Vai, Satriani, and Eddie Van Halen are inevitable, but Bradshaw injects his vast experience into the mix to create a sound all his own. Making this a true solo album, J.D. also delivers a professional performance on bass and drums. The focus remains, however, on his lightning fretwork. From the all-out shredfest that is "Hydra-Shokk", to the definite '80s feel of the melodious "Victory Lane" (my favorite track), to the wistfully introspective riffs of "Ostara" and the hard-rockin' grit of "Mindsweeper", 3rd Time Around is a solid album for fans of instrumental guitar metal.

Track Listing
2Victory Lane5:32
Total Runtime22:23

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