Skin Like Iron - Descent Into Light [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)

Skin Like Iron

Descent Into Light [12-inch] (2010)

Six Feet Under

This is a strange record to figure out. This band has a great name, a cool album cover, and the recording quality is thick and full with an awesome guitar tone, but the actual content of the record leave me shaking my head in confusion.

The problem with this band is the music. Since this is, I assume, a hardcore band, the only actual melody is in the guitar parts, which take center stage for the entire record and are elevated high above everything else in the mix–an approach that can work well when the guitars are done well. However, Skin Like Iron's riffs just don't make sense melodically. They slip in and out of tonality, often in a major key (which is odd, since 99.999% of heavy music is in a minor key), and sometimes without any tonal center at all. There are times where it sounds like the writer just moved his hands around without worrying about what it really sounds like, almost randomly.

For instance, the opening riff of the record ("Animals") is just a major scale going down and up. It sounds like a high school marching band warm-up. Then there is the main riff to the track "Survival", which sounds like nothing, just random notes. The guitars also have the annoying tendency, almost always, of throwing on the extra fifth on the bottom of power chords. For guitar players, it's that thing when you play a power chord on the A-string and then bar your first finger to the E-string as well so that you are playing the E and A strings on the same fret. I've always felt that this trick should be used as more of a spice; it's very annoying when used as a crutch, which is what SLI does over and over on this record.

The only thing I can come up with why Skin Like Iron would want to sound atonal or try to play in a major key so often is that occasionally this sounds like Fucked Up, who often play in a major key, but actually pull it off. With all of that, there are two instances on the record that I thought worked and sounded good. The first is in the track "Violent Trauma", which sounds like old Bad Religion with screaming, and the intro riff to "A Metropolis Collapsed", which makes the atonality work before the song shifts into another weird riff that just doesn't work.

As for the rest of the record, the vocals are screamed, sounding a bit like a higher-pitched Integrity. The lyrics are typical apocalypse-predicting fare that is common in many modern hardcore bands. In "A Metropolis Collapsed": "Nothing remains, nothing stands. In the shadows of a metropolis collapsed. Nothing remains of the days when life once thrived. The sunshine–so bright–bright enough to blind your eyes. No memories remain to remind you of the time you were alive." And so on. As for the drums, they are buried in the mix, but there is a drum break in the song "Survival" where the drummer is just playing the D-beat by himself and it's done pretty poorly.

Ultimately, this is a weird record. It looks nice from the outside, but the content suffers from the atonal guitar riffs and lack of real substance in the lyrics. I don't see anyone on this site being into this.