Review Summary: Nothing special, but Skinwalker is some moderately enjoyable metalcore.
Metalcore has largely run its course. There’s always a chance that an emerging act will arise, revitalising an otherwise stale genre and improving the outlook on this particular sub-genre of metal. Alas, For All I Am’s Skinwalker
doesn’t even come close to being the innovative release craved by many made hesitant by the genre’s stereotypes. Admirably, For All I Am (formally known as I, Artificial) maintain a consistent debut full-length and while it’s far from showcasing a group unlike any other it does manage to achieve a solid outing. Signed to Equal Vision Records
this Illinois five piece present some formulaic, back-to-basics metalcore; the music plays hugely off a screamed verse to clean chorus to screamed verse broken only by the use of soft-ish interludes/bridges giving the listener a highly predictable structure shaping. Occasionally, the band finds themselves trudging along typical teen filled angst in terms of lyrical content but largely this doesn’t take away from this young, almost vibrant release. For example: “You think you’re so tough/ you made my life so rough” and “My bones were once made of glass/ Every day I used to break” don’t really do anything to promote the band as the intellectual type but the music does have a resilient, semi-feel good sound to it.
Yes, breakdowns are imminent at almost every point of the record but the album is far from a “junz-fest”. It appears that For All I Am can write and record a track without too much emphasis on the constant breakdown preferring to stick to the already mentioned formulaic routine. But, even this has its downfalls; sometimes the shifts between sections are abrupt, untested creating small timing issues, then resorting to one of the occasional breakdowns, this limits the band’s reception on a worldwide level given that the metal community would mostly prefer bands steer away from this conformity. At times the sections overlap but mostly it makes tracks just sound plain odd. Skinwalker’s
ten tracks finish up just short of forty-minutes giving out enough material to get the band’s point across but at the same time ensuring the music doesn’t become “too” repetitive, over-bearing or altogether too much on the listener.
On the back of this release For All I Am has some things to consider. Namely, if they want to continue in the same musical vein they have built for themselves. Easily piled into the “Parkway Drive clone pile” with music familiar to many a metalcore effort across the industry, For All I Am are not exactly making any headway in creating individuality in a genre that severely needs it. For All I Am haven’t really been around that long and unfortunately it shows through their music. Overall, the music plays too safe, hopping from familiar territory to recycled idea. By itself it’s not actually bad, regardless the music is certainly far away from extraordinary. One day it could be that this new act may just hit the heights of the genre, although it is unlikely.