Old Skin are a mysterious metallic hardcore quartet from Manchester. The band have taken a careful approach to conceal their identities in favour of presenting high quality music without the stigma of who is responsible for making it. The group present their first EP ‘MÆRE’ which is a record that is equally beautiful and unmercifully crushing.
The EP begins with a sorrowful croon that can only be described as Thom Yorke doing his ‘Lotus Flower’ thing but also managing to sound like Karl Middleton from earthtone9 during the opening of ‘Tat Twam Asi’. The sombre tones of opener ‘Sleep//Sores’ create a haunting atmosphere that is absolutely demolished after its opening 2 minutes. It is at this point that Old Skin’s vocalist gets his grunty belch on and this opens up an ungodly hell of brutality.
The meat of ‘MÆRE’ is made up of the 3 tracks ‘Hag//Ridden’, ‘Foolish//Fires’ and ‘Moral//Panic’. Each song is a speaker-blowing burst of hardcore. What Old Skin are stunningly good at is finding a brilliant balance that makes their songs heavy yet memorable. The songs don’t feature anything that could be described as a chorus so the band use their guitar work to bolster the songs. The riffs on ‘MÆRE’ are nothing short of staggering with each song providing a showcase of technical skill as well as some seriously meaty hooks.
The performances on ‘MÆRE’ are just fantastic. The drums pack a serious punch, the bass guitar is thunderous yet never managing to encroach on the masterful guitar work and the vocals are just… perfect. I don’t know how else I can describe them. They switch between forlorn beauty and disgusting roar with unsettling ease and make ‘MÆRE’ one of the most engaging heavy releases I’ve ever experienced. Old Skin’s vocalist is a joy to listen to regardless of the fact he is essentially ruining my eardrums.
The whole package is also presented through the beautiful production of Joe Clayton from No Studio who is fast becoming the go-to-guy for heavy music in Machester. It’s clear why the man is involved; ‘MÆRE’ is filtered through a wonderful mix that makes sure every piece of the puzzle is clear as day but retaining all of the dirt that makes a great hardcore release so satisfying to listen to.
Old Skin might be a fresh face but ‘MÆRE’ showcases a level of talent and song-writing that is heads and shoulders above their peers. This EP is a master-class in how to create a haunting atmosphere without losing any of the impact that heavy music delivers. Old Skin have delivered a thought-provoking first release that has to be one of the best débuts of any band.
Old SKin’s ‘MÆRE’ is released on the 31st of October through Church of Fuck, Dry Cough Records and Skin & Bones Records.