Review: “Seven Layers of Skin” EP by Sentenced To Burn

The first signing to Emmure frontman Frankie Palmeri’s new label Redzone Records were announced as Huston Texas natives Sentenced To Burn. Their debut EP for the label “Seven Layers of Skin” dropped back at the end of January. They had previously released a split with Renounced in 2015 which featured a single track by each band, Sentenced To Burn providing “Intro/Into Death” and is available over at bandcamp. But Sentenced To Burn actually started life as a band called Drown, releasing a pair of 3 track EPs in 2013 (“Demo” & “Drown”, the latter through Rare Bear Records) and a full on 7 track EP in 2014 entitled “Dispossession” via Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Harm Reduction Records. The change in moniker apparently came about due to a cease and desist order from another band using the same name and whether the band took their new name from the Cannibal Corpse song of the same title on 1998’s “Gallery Of Suicide” is open to conjecture.

Opening with some programmed jungle or drum n’ bass drum work and and some very familiar guitar work “All My Enemies” lifts straight from the Slipknot playbook, a hybrid of “Eyeless” and “Surfacing” from their 1999 self titled debut. There is a spoken work element throughout the track that has Corey Taylor written all over it, as do the lyrics. Don’t let any of that put you off, it’s a fine track and about as close to the original Slipknot sound as you’re going to find out there if you’re a fan. The musicianship shines and the production value is fantastic. The closing spoken word before down tempo breakdown is absolutely spot on. “Worldofhate” is a Nine Inch Nails 90’s industrial inspired intro of 44 seconds that has the eerie dark harsh whispered vocal and buried dub beat that bursts into “GodHammer”. Perhaps it would have been a better choice to use this pairing of tracks to intro the EP and give it a better flow. “GodHammer” keeps up the Mick Thompson inspired guitar work and introduces some pile driving bass-lines into the post chorus. Inter-splicing the uncleans with dark and torchered clean spoken word sections adds to the flow, while at times it does sound like the scream is “God in Heaven” rather than “God Hammer”. Emmure frontman Frankie Palmeri appearing on “Coupe De Grace” is almost an inside joke as the song itself touches on the “Goodbye To The Gallows” era of Emmure with it’s introduction and slow breakdowns. The continued heavy use of pitch harmonics adds to the throwback element of the sound here and as both vocalists contribute to a call and response vocal trade off, fortunately Palmeri manages to drag out a better performance from Sentenced To Burn’s frontman and avoids over shadowing him.

“killme” is the second of the pulsating electronic passages and at 36 seconds is designed to act as a pallet cleanser for the final two songs of the release. “Untwisted” soaks itself in a KoRn influence with a clear Jonathan Davis vocal pattern style circa self-titled, “Life Is Peachy” era. The guitars drive a bouncy chugging riff between a pair of tones and paces but there is a clear lack of lyrical depth or musical adventure on this one. “Black Hole Soul” is another cut with a very KoRn guitar sound, off kilter clean lead sound with the guitar sounding slightly out tune and a click-y bass sound and slow burn atmosphere. There is a Chino Moreno-esq Deftones vocal harmony section across the chorus, but its dialled back so it doesn’t work as well as Loathe are able to use it with their classy number “White Hot”. The second verse sees the vocals step up with a punch into some uncleans before dropping back down to the spoken word and cleans. The longest song on the EP and perhaps one of the finer ones, closes things out in some style.

From the very start, it’s obvious that Sentenced To Burn have changed their game dramatically since the aforementioned split with Renounced. The raw hardcore punk sound has evaporated completely and while the band still label themselves “Hardcore” they have more in common with the current crop of Nu-Metalcore bands than anything else. A few weeks back we reviewed “Errorzone” by Vein and said that the band had been influenced by Slipknot‘s 1999 self-titled debut release – something that Metal Hammer called “a lazy comparison” in their own review. There is more than a splash of that same influence with “Seven Layers of Skin” and in places there are KoRn-isms that you would have to be deaf to miss. Not that these are bad things, if anything they add to the initial appeal of the record by giving it an instant familiarity, but it does beg the questions – where has the original sound gone – and – where do they go from here? [7/10]

track list

1. All My Enemies
2. Worldofhate
3. GodHammer
4. Coupe De Grace (Ft. Frankie Palmeri of Emmure)
5. killme
6. Untwisted
7. Black Hole Soul

“Seven Layers of Skin” by Sentenced To Burn is out now via Redzone Records

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