FELSKINN – Mind Over Matter

The name thing. Ok, here we go again. I’ve written it numerous times before – I have a band name issue. At times a band’s name sounds so damn horrendous that I just avoid to even give the band a fair chance. I know that’s stupid and I constantly try to better myself in that department as I have stepped on that land mine on more than a few occasions and have had to crawl with the tail between my legs. “I will never again judge a band simply because of their name”, I have said each time a certain band have proved me wrong. That’s when a reviewers link with a band called Felskinn enters my mail box. Gosh! For a Swede, the name Felskinn sounds very funny, especially when you have no idea what the f**k a Felskinn is. It means “wrong skin” in Swedish, by the way. My first thought was, should I even bother with this? I mean, what band in their right mind calls themselves Felskinn?

Well, I asked around and found a perfectly adequate explanation for that. See, this band hails from Switzerland and Felskinn is a pretty big mountain over there. Just the same as Gotthard, another Swiss band. Or at least almost.  The Gotthard Pass is a mountain chain in the Swiss alps. But enough of that. Felskinn started back in 2005 by singer Andy Portman and released their debut album the year after. Touring and playing festivals to not much avail, the band broke up due to “musical differences” in 2008 and Portman went on with other projects. But while recording this album, he decided to put Felskinn back on the map albeit with a different line-up and that’s the album we have in out hands now. Wise to my earlier misjudgments of bands with bands that have names not to my likings, I decided that no matter how funny Felskinn sounds in my head, I would at least listen to what they had to offer.

Opener “Close Your Eyes” takes me off guard some with its Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal style. It’s heavy, hard and ass-kicking but also with an addictive melody and a chorus that really hits home and the instant catchiness marries fine with the distinct and punchy rhythm. It’s an awesome song that brought my interest up lots. The following “Pictures In My Dreams”, the album’s first taster, continues to bring out high quality rock. This one’s in mid pace but also very straight forward Hard Rock with a brilliant refrain that sticks right away. Big, fat and with a crunch, the tune is a real killer that will work like a charm from the stage. They take another turn with “Dying Man” – slow, heavy and ballsy yet very melodic and memorable with another distinct refrain. The middle-break is also heavy as shit, very headbanging-friendly. Felskinn lets the darkness in on “The Night Before The Dawn”, a heavy and in-your-face tune that brings on some really fat Metal riffs. A catchy bridge brings the tune into a repetitive but very memorable chorus. Four songs in and I’m really impressed.

Second single “Our Favorite Dream” is a pop song with a heavy arrangement that stands on a Hard Rock ground. The fact that the song is extremely catchy and radio-friendly makes it an obvious single choice. I must point out that it’s not cheesy or saccharine but it sure comes with a huge hit-alert. Pop-metal at its best! On the opposite side comes “Bastards Out”, a fast, heavy and aggressive Metal tune that sends a nod back to the days of NWOBHM. The tune gets right in your face, on your case and it sure kicks up dust. It’s a good song that shows that Felskinn sure can get hard as hell if they want to. They stay on the rougher path with the heavy hard rocker “Break New Ground”. But the tune contains some big, symphonic influenced keyboards and the highly melodic melodies makes it a bit more smooth and catchy and its hard not to surrender to this one. Great tune. “Superhero” is also on the heavier side and it comes in a faster pace with a tough rhythm which gives the song a Metal vibe but the very catchy refrain puts a Melodic Rock vibe over the track and it all marries just splendidly. Very good.

Latest single “Rain Will Fall” picks up and to these ears, this pearl of a song is damn hit. This is big, fat and tough Hard Rock with a twitch of Metal that sports a refrain so catchy it hurts and the hit potential is enormous here. I surrendered right from hello. The mid-paced title track comes along with a heavy and punchy rhythm section that holds up some stone hard riffs that in turn holds up a brilliantly catchy melody line that makes the tune memorable without being radio-friendly at all. A good song that keeps the high quality alive. It’s power ballad time when “Wake Up On Mars” shows up but fear not, this is no “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by any means. The power balladry is mixed up with heavier Metal injected undertones and an underlying darkness, so this slower piece is completely cheeseless. It is very catchy, though. The record ends with “I Hear You Calling”, a pretty furious Metal track with kicking and screaming riffs that ends up somewhere between Accept and Pantera. It’s a heavy number but still with enough melody to make it memorable.

I’m really not sure what I had expected from this album but I do know it really showed me that one should never ever judge a band by its name no matter what. The key word to this record is melody, no matter where the songs go style wise. The guys are obviously into Metal but their music includes equal parts of Hard Rock as well – and they’re not afraid to mix it up with a big chunk of Melodic Rock and Pop arrangements that makes the songs a bit more accessible, but never sugary or cheesy. The album sports a big production and even though it’s somewhat polished, it’s also hard, heavy, rough and at times aggressive, a mix that certainly appeals a lot to me. Hopefully this album will reach enough new fans to make for a continuation of the band this time because I believe that Felskinn just might have a bright future ahead of them. Highly recommended!

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Close Your Eyes
2. Pictures In My Dreams
3. Dying Man
4. The Night Before The Dawn
5. Our Favorite Dream
6. Bastards Out
7. Break New Ground
8. Superhero
9. Rain Will Fall
10. Mind Over Matter
11. Wake Up On Mars
12. I Hear You Calling

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