Skintrade

SKINTRADE – Refueled

Skintrade - RefueledBefore I write anything else, I have something to admit. Skintrade to me equals gloom, depression, boredom and an age when the rock music I loved was traded for everything I hated about rock music. Let me explain, when grunge walked in and took over, it ruined the music business for me and that the Americans jumped right into it was one thing, but the same thing happened here in Sweden, I was saddened. I saw two bands as the villains – Mental Hippie Blood and Skintrade. Mental Hippie Blood were once called Glorious Bankrobbers and played the kind of hard rock that Guns N Roses and Faster Pussycat played and when they changed singer and became a sign of the times, I saw them as a complete sell-out. Skintrade on the other side were a new band and I didn’t know the musicians apart from one : Matti Alfonzetti. I knew Matti from his melodic rock band Bam Bam Boys who never released anything and from Jagged Edge, the band he started with English guitarist Myke Gray. When Jagged Edge split up, they got a new singer and became Skin. Matti also had a short stint with Talisman before Jeff Scott Soto decided to return. Now this big voiced, long-haired hard rocker both sounded and looked grunge. This was the mid nineties, so he wasn’t alone on that, but to me those two bands symbolized everything that was wrong with the 90’s. So I hated them both. Today I find Mental Hippie Blood’s self titled debut a great album, but I have never reconciled with Skintrade even though their self titled debut from 1993 has one or two good songs on it. At least, from what I remember. That said, I haven’t listened to that album in ages (I still have it on cassette somewhere). Skintrade disbanded after their second album Roach Powder (1995) and was never to return again. Or so we thought. Today, Matti has two other commitments in Red White & Blues, again with Myke Gray and the Skin guys – and the brilliant melodic rock project Impera. So why not get involved in another one?

You might have guessed that Skintrade’s reunion did not put me in some kind of arousing trance or so. No, to be honest, I just didn’t care. But after a while, my curiosity took the better of me, I wanted to know how Skintrade sounded in 2014 and I have come to love new albums with old hate objects like Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. And after all, Alfonzetti is a fantastic singer and a guy who knows how to create a catchy melody, so no harm in giving this a shot, right? The hardest part about it was to listen with an open mind, but hey, I did that with the other grunge bands so why not just not think about their name and just go for the music. Opening track “Monster” woke me up directly. The song is a nod to the mid nineties, yes, but the heavy riffing and the instant melody shook me up. Damn – this is good. Really good. “Liar” is a melodic and catchy rocker and I I’m not thinking grunge here, just great hard rock and “Pay It In Blood” is a killer – heavy stuff, but still melodic enough to satisfy me. “Hardcore MF Heartattack” is awesome – heavy rock that rocks like crazy, “Mountain” is a rocker with a brilliant groove and “Been To The Bottom” as bluesy with a ballad-like foundation, but it still rocks – this is just stunning. It’s almost a bit of a shocker to hear  Skintrade play a song like “Dying In Your Arms”. This is pure melodic hard rock. It is also damn brilliant and “Wild One” might be a little more what to expect from them even though it’s a ballad – slow, dark and heavy, but really, really good.

Now I have something else to admit: I really like this album. It’s surprisingly good and I’m really enamoured, this wasn’t anything like I would have imagined. As I said, it was a long time since I listened to Skintrade’s old albums and perhaps this album isn’t that far away musically from how they originally sounded as I may have thought, maybe this was exactly how they did sound back when and I had just chosen not see it. Anyway, there are some dark sounds here, there are tuned down guitars, but this hasn’t much to do with alternative music or grunge at all, no I’d just call this a heavy hard rock album. What I like about it also is that it’s well produced – AND well mastered – it works just as well on your phone as it does on an actual CD in your car, something that’s not that common in this digital age. That said, I’m off digging up that old tape of that debut album of theirs – maybe my opinions of Skintrade has been nothing but insular and that the band never was so despicable as I have led myself to believe. I’d certainly recommend some Skintrade refueling. Thumbs up!

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Monster
2. Liar
3. Pay In Blood
4. Hardcore MF Heartattack
5. Close My Eyes
6. Getting Away With Murder
7. Mountain
8. Been To The Bottom
9. Worse Than Wasted
10. Dying In Your Arms
11. Wild One
12. Look Me In The Eye

 

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