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Skinner Box - Alpha Waves (2017) - Review

Band: Skinner Box
Album title: Alpha Waves
Release date: 27 April 2017
Label: Self-Released

01. Casimir
02. The Day Our Whole World Went Black
03. Completely Human
04. Die For You Or By Your Hand
05. The World In Your Hands (The Spirit Of The Staircase)
06. Ocean Of Doubts
07. Rat Park
08. Instincts
09. Perfect Imperfection
10. I Lose You

It has been four years ago that this combo from Greece spawned up with their debut EP Life Is Chemistry and already with that release the group of musicians centered around the vocalist Vana Rose hooked me with their emotional and somehow unique yet warm approach in blending together post rock, alternative rock, indie, post-punk, gothic rock, trip hop and dark wave. After that the band was quite silent until now and they are back in a big way with their debut full-lenght - Alpha Waves. They expanded their sound, it's even more subtle, electrifying and dark, not only from musical, but as well from the lyrical side.

Alpha Waves offers ten emotionally driven songs that show a huge talent of this musicians. In its basis they are a post/alternative-rock band but the sound is so very versatile that it's very difficult to put them into any box. Vana's captivating, beautiful and emotive voice is strong enough and easily enters your subconscious, but only in connotation with great instrumental side of this album it gets its proper exposure. Vibrant and intriguing guitar riffs are often at the very border between classic rock, indie rock, shoegaze, darkwave and gothic rock, backened by strong, many times very reverberate bass lines, meticulous drumming and well added synths where most needed to deepen even more the whole thing, are the things that are main characteristics of Skinner Box sound.

The songs are very dynamic, absolutely not repetitive, with plenty of soul melting melodies, you can find some true rocking ones, some playful, danceable popy rhythms and sparkling lines, a couple of highly emotional tunes, but all of them are bent in some kind of a melancholic veil. After the strong opener "Casimir" there comes the first highlight, "The Day Our Whole World Went Black", a song with such an ethereal dark melancholic power that with its captivating and evocative refrain penetrates listeners mind and heart like a warm blade. The sparkling piano even more deepens the whole atmosphere and it feels like flying above everything. With absolutely great meaningful lyrics in which the band express their thoughts about confrontational daily routine and the perpetual effort of mind to balance between dream and reality, the whole thing gets another surplus and opens up another dimension all there to explore.

It's very easy to let your mind go with Skinner Box' music. Like the strange "alpha waves" that human brain produces within some seconds; until you give in to the arms of Morpheus… that leads your heart to primal emotions, hence the album title and strange but original cover artwork. It has the necessary pathos, everything is from the start until the end in the right motion that doesn't allow to the listener to get bored for a second. Just listen to those somehow trippy and bluesy guitars in "Completely Human" and how vibrant yet strong is the rhythm in rather danceable "Die For You Or By Your Hand". Another favorite of mine is "The World In Your Hands (The Spirit Of The Staircase)". I simply can't explain how very emotional is this one, it opens up such a beautiful and yet dark sonic world that simply engulfs you into its depths. Vana shows with ease how very versatile singer she is, no matter if the song is groovy or calm, emotional or danceable she manages to give her best and it's a joy to listen to her ethereal voice.

Skinner Box are not afraid to use some psychedelic elements here and there, they can also be very heavy, for example in the upbeat closing part of "Ocean Of Doubts", or with elegance going into the gothic/post-punk waters similar to the most melodic The Cure in the amazing "Perfect Imperfection". I was blown away by the ethereal, rather dark shoegazy "Instincts" or by the closing one, "I Lose You", which reminds a bit to Velvet Underground and creates such a dense astounding sound with cello, violins and viola. There are some rather mellow moments on the album though, for example in the song "Rat Park", but still it's good enough and so tiny that it doesn't ruin the picture.

Skinner Box did an album that is hardly to be believed that is only their debut. Everything is almost perfect, the sound is rich, it has a big replay value, it's not just another generic rock album, it has depth, it has soul and it simply shines of creativity. Considering that almost everything was done in self-production is just another plus that shows that we have to deal here with matured, devoted and professional musicians who perfectly know what they are doing and I hope that we'll be soon blessed to hear more from them. Skinner Box are a band that needs attention from everyone who is into dark alternative rock music!

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10