Hard Wired (2005)

Review Source: Hard Wired
Artist: THINGS OUTSIDE THE SKIN
Release: You Knew It All Along
Label: Facility Records
Style: Industrial Punk
Rating: 5/10

Wow, over an hour’s music on one CD – 22 tracks!! Oh, hang on, eleven of them are re-mixes of existing tracks, leaving us with just 11 original tracks.

Okay, so what do we have here then?

Well, kicking off the male fronted Industrial rock-come-punk tunes is the track ‘American way’, taking a pop at American ethics when it comes to slightly threatening countries. I can go along with this, and it’s a good track that eases the listener into the TOTS sound – rocking industrial sound with ever so slightly distorted vocals. Things look (sound?) good…

Track 2, ‘Mettle IV’ seems to carry on this sound, but things start to blend into the obscure by the time we hit ‘Spice up your life’ – a tripped out version of the Spice Girls original we guess. Lots of weed should help you through this one, as it leaves it’s Industrial uniform at the door as it crashes into a hazy wash of smoke and flickering lights. Odd!

‘The most appealing thing’ sees TOTS switch to rap-core, with metal overtones. A complete departure from the opening track, I had to check I was still listening to the TOTS album.

From here on in, things get weird – tracks like ‘Going Under’ and ‘Cow tippin’’ definitely have a tongue in cheek air to them, but seem to leave all music credentials initial presented behind. This is student punk rock performed by a band that are more competent than that. Elements of Clawfinger can be found here in terms of the vocal style, but any sincerity is firmly lacking.

‘So Emotional Tao’ is just plain weird – thankfully only a minute long, but a complete waste of space in my opinion.

If there’s one good thing that can be said for TOTS, the styles on offer here are highly broad and varied – no one track seems to sound like any other on the album. A skill the band seem to have down to a fine art. But in doing this they seem to have shot out the other side in terms of a broad musical scope. The tracks on this album have no direction to them – take the track ‘Horror Culture III’, this is possibly the kind of music you’d expect to hear on a police TV show as the credits start to roll. In other words, bland.

‘Cancer song’ seems to follow the same format – music accompanied by a monologue recording. Nothing inspiring at all.

By now we’ve hit the remixes, and again it seems as if TOTS just want to weird us out with their music. Out of the tracks mixed up (‘Another dead comedian’, ‘Spice up your life’, ‘Mettle IV’, ‘God in a box’, ‘Wormface’, ‘Cow tippin’’, ‘So Emotional Tao’), nothing leaps out you and demands you get up and mosh your heart out on the dance floor. In fact hitting the skip button is the order of the day here.

For the Conservative among us, there are three radio edits, ‘American way’, ‘Another dead comedian’ and ‘Cow tippin’’ – again, nothing to inspire you here.

So, out of 22 tracks, nothing here sets the scene alight. A shame really as TOTS are musically competent enough to do better. I’m afraid this album is all quantity and no quality. A great shame.

-review by Keith Elcombe

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