Skin Machine – Circu5 (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

It is thanks to bands such as Circu5 that the term prog has shaken off some of its old image and is becoming cool again. Following in the footsteps of bands such as Porcupine Tree, Dream Theatre and Muse, it through blending the tight and to-the-point aggressiveness of alt-rock with the more thoughtful and a more measured take on the oft-meandering musical styles of the progressive world, that this modern hybrid has become popular once more. Throwing in a whole bucket of melody and a sumptuous helping of groove never does any harm either.

Skin Machine is the calling card for a forthcoming second album from the band, a follow up to 2017’s eponymous debut and a continuation of the story of Grady, a test-tube-conceived psychopath on the run from the state. Yes, that old go-to pop narrative!

As before, Circu5 splices hard-hitting rock moves with more intricate and ornate sonics…or perhaps vice versa, but which ever way you look at such things you end up with music which will both appeal to the foot-on-the-monitor rock fans and the more deft and discerning progger alike. And this is because the weight of the music comes from clever layering of sounds, through the creation of musical textures rather than just knocking the volume controls to max and making a racket. And it is this more considered approach and the ability to quickly switch the sonic angle of attack between subtle and supple understatement and searing, sneering, sky-scraping wig outs which gives the song its musical smarts.

First singles from a promised album are, above all other considerations, meant to whet your interest and start a buzz about what’s to come. So the question is, I guess, does Skin Machine do that? Without a shadow of a doubt!

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