Grave Concerns E-Zine (2005)

Review Source: Grave Concerns E-Zine
Artist: THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN
Release: You Knew It All Along
Label: Facility Records

You Knew It All Along, Things Outside the Skin’s third album on Facility Records, is essentially a relatively short 11-song album ballooned out to 70 minutes with 8 remixes (a few being remixed tracks from previous albums), 3 radio edits, and a *cough* 1-minute bonus track. Hints of Skinny Puppy, Ministry, NIN, old My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, and Rob Zombie among others permeate the band’s stylistically diverse sound, blending strong industrial percussion, noise, and more coherent synth and guitar work with vocals that range from the rap industrial variety to the more traditional distorted industrial brand. Lyrically, it’s certainly far from understated, from the anti-Bush/anti-war theme of “American Way” to the vegetarian anthem “Cow Tippin'” to “Another Dead Comedian”, peculiarly choosing the murder of Phil Hartman as its subject matter. In other words, those with thin skin or strong rightwing leanings most likely need not apply.

Two of the tracks here are covers: an unexpectedly straight-faced, plodding, moody take on the Spice Girls’ “Spice Up Your Life” and an electronic-percussion-heavy industrial interpretation of Devo’s “Going Under”. The opening anti-Bush “American Way” is one of the strongest tracks here, steady, NIN-esque industrial percussion and underlying electronic loops providing the backing for a bass-driven semi-rapped, semi-snarled, relatively blunt delivery. “Mettle IV: Programmed Apathy” is fairly short, barely exceeding 2 minutes, a well assembled, angst-ridden cacophony of industrial guitar riffing, distorted vocals, horror film synths, and thumping percussion.

“The Most Appealing Thing” is a slower track, crazed spoken ranting filtered through distortion atop a sinister electronic foundation, while “Cow Tippin'” is a nicely rhythmic, bass driven offering with hip-hop undertones. “So Emotional Tao” is a one-minute foray into faster industrial electronica territory, while “Another Dead Comedian” is something of a catchy industrial swing track with a lovely mellow interlude featuring female vocals and a chaotic finale. The instrumental “Town & Country” builds to a dance industrial frenzy, while the following “Horror Culture III: The Victim” certainly stands out form the crowd if just for its notably atmospheric delivery, blending lush synths and wobbly vocals atop layered electronic percussion. “Cancer Song”, the last of the disc’s original tracks before delving into remix territory, is a fairly solid 3-minute instrumental overlaid with spoken word samples about cancer treatment.

Of the disc’s numerous remixes, “Spice Up Your Life: Slice Up Your Wife Mix” and “Cow Tippin’: Cold and Cowculated Mix” are certainly the most interestingly titled, the former turning the original cover a shade darker and the latter a steady up-tempo dance remix. The others range from the noisier “Another Dead Comedian: CliffMonk-A Remix” to the slightly eerie “God in a Box: hERESY Mix”. Overall, the remixes are rather good and remarkably sonically consistent with the rest of the album, creating a cohesive listening experience rather than feeling tacked on (save for the repeated radio edits, which are likely to appeal only to DJs, completists, and those offended by the originals’ unedited lyrics).

As a whole, You Knew It All Along is an interesting hybrid release, sort of half original album and half remix album. Its use of rapped vocals and often less-than-eloquent lyrical phrasing may be a turn-off to some. However, despite being a bit rough around the edges, it’s a fairly sonically interesting and stylistically diverse industrial album with unique production and a few interesting covers.

review by Joshua Heinrich

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