Have you ever wondered what a band like Pennywise would sound like with Terror’s Scott Vogel or even Barney Greenway from Napalm Death providing the vocals? Well, hailing from La Harve France are trio Without Skin. Consisting of Guitarist and Vocalist Romain Neveu on Bassist and Vocalist Gabriel Fritsch and Drummer Marc Raas they released their debut full length album last summer. It was recorded by Olivier Michelot at Studio Georges Meliès, mixed & mastered by Jordan Le Prévost-Lofong at Studio Barman Records and saw production by Les Disques du Hangar 221 and the band themselves.
Feedback kicks things off with some bass heavy Black Sabbath influenced opening licks “Left Behind” gets the album underway with a hint at “Paranoid” as it flows through with a fine punk energy and some caustic vocals. They maybe billed as a Hardcore Punk band, but they have far more than that in their locker. “Belong / Behave” has a classic punk rock feel to it and even pauses for some melodic guitar sheen before a final verse chorus blast. “Walks Home with Fire” is the longest song on the album clocking in at 3 minutes 46 seconds and starts with a speech sample that asks “Who will rise for me against the wicked?” before kicking into a sludgy, bluesy hard rock riff delivered at Hardcore Punk pace. It’s a track that showcases some of the bands more diverse influences and has something in common with Killswitch Engage frontman Jesse Leech side project Seamless. Slowing that riff down progressively and then having a simple sparse bassline soaked in feedback to close the song is a really well worked piece of musicianship and gives a palette cleansing before “Old Knives” kicks in. Lyrically a classic song about growing older and the changes that you don’t see while the vultures are at your back. In the introduction we spoke about the vocals being a big contrast to the sound. Well actually, it has been done stylistically previously. Frontman Romain Neveu has something of the Evergreen Terrance vocalist Andrew Carey in his vocal style and though the music is more straight up and without the vocal harmonies of Craig Chaney, there is certainly some of that appeal to the bands sound.
Skimming along the surface wanting to murder someone with while declaring that it is all “Not Worth It”, which is a sentiment that we can all relate to. Someone gets under your skin to the point you feel that rage and then you think about how it will all work out and it’s not worth it. That’s what this tune is about and it flows perfectly into the instrumental part #2 entitled “Canal” that continues the flow and builds something more progressive with some style. “Regression” has some older Californian punk The Offspring influence in it bridge with a bolder bassline and more harmonic riffage while the looser, live feel drum sound is a joy. It’s the first of only two tunes to use profanity in the lyrics and the socially aware furtherance is poignant given the troubled times their homeland have experienced recently. You may note that the album title “Worships” doesn’t appear in the album lyrics or track titles anywhere, which is an interesting choice. It’s not an album that gets heavier or more melodic at any point, there is no big style shift in the bands sound from track to track. Instead the band stick to their guns in their style and what they do works really well.
“The Uprising” also has an Offspring feel to it and it’s politically charged onslaught is perhaps where the bands name came from (“ripped off my skin, paid in full is enough for me”). Driven riffs keep it going while getting that all important message across. It’s protest music Jim, but more subtle than perhaps you realise. “Falling Free” continues the vibe with the simple sentiment that we’re not free – we’re falling. The powerful rhythmic blaze of the opening steps up into full throttle pace while some tasteful pauses add a sense of gravity to the fall. The surprise is a blast beat bridge from drummer Marc Raas that adds a nuance, one of a few that appear from repeated listens. Gabriel Fritsch delivers a fine bass rhythm on what is perhaps his finest moment of a solid performance throughout. “Black Sun” brings the curtain down with some more progressive riffs at punk speed without changing the guitar tone and works well with a number of on point tempo changes before a final flourish and crescendo of kit work [7/10].
“Belong / Behave”
“Walks Home with Fire”
“Not Worth It”
“Worships” by Without Skin is out now and available via Bandcamp