Captive Audience, the debut release from Glasgow Prog Metal outfit Secondskin, on Union Black records, is nothing short of stunning. The tone is set immediately with the haunting intro ‘If you knew…’, which almost hypnotizes you before the raw brutality of ‘Pawned Life’ bursts through the haze reawakening the senses… but almost as quickly as they arrive the powerful guitars are gone, replaced by atmospheric melodies and vocal harmonies. There is an underlying menace to the melodies building into a crescendo, displaying Ian McCall’s vocal strengths. The staccato, atmospheric melodies continue through ‘Fashion Victim’, the title track ‘Captive Audience’ and ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ but still with the shadow of menace lurking just beneath the surface, revealing itself through the crushing choruses.
The mood changes with ‘Triggered Happy’, the melodies are still prevalent but they have a Curesque downbeat feel to them and the vocals take on a more melancholy persona. The climax is reminiscent of ‘90’s shoegaze pioneers Slowdive with the layered guitar harmonies, haunting vocals to which Secondskin bring an added heaviness.
The melancholic feel continues with ‘Is this how far we’ve come?’, the atmospheric melodies continue to seduce, luring you into tranquillity before the heavy guitars and edgy vocals of ‘Meanderthal’ bring you crashing back to reality. The jagged heaviness is short lived as the melodies and vocal harmonies return in ‘Among the mute majority’ and ‘Capable of anything’.
The album’s ending is as strong and captivating as the beginning, ‘HPID’ with its soaring vocals and complex guitar harmonies lead perfectly in the the outro ‘…what the river carries’ expanding on the haunting, hypnotic intro ‘If you knew…’.
Obvious comparisons have been drawn with Prog/Metal stalwarts Porcupine Tree but Secondskin stand up to these well and have the ability to carve their own mark on the genre.
Captive Audience is definitely one of the albums to buy in 2010!