BAND: The Skeleton Years (Philippines)
RELEASE: In Memoriam (2017)
REVIEWER: Jep Peligro
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I just got my copy of the new EP released by The Skeleton Years. As a listener, I would suggest you pick up their first two EPs (2013’s “Between Lunacy And You”, and 2014’s “Pieces Of Recovery”) to understand how the band pushes themselves forward with every new release.
Just when you thought this year was coming to an end without anything more to offer (except the new Sugar Hiccup full length “Closure”, but that’s a totally different matter altogether), The Skeleton Years decide to stun everyone by releasing a jawdropper of an EP. The band really flies their Dark Wave and Post-Punk flag high with this breakthrough release “In Memoriam”, drawing heavy influence from The Mission, Bauhaus, The Sound, Warsaw and the likes. These fellas are definitely making the south of the Metro look and feel like 80’s Manchester. Let that sink in for a bit.
Album opener ‘Color Blind’ sets the mood just right: The TSY that I’ve known still flaunts their familiar, punky, crunchy, complementary guitars, with a lot going on on all fronts. The closest to an anthemic theme I can pick up on is ‘Hold Tight’, although not quite as perfect as what 2013’s ‘Dead Night’ accomplished, but zero complaints here, kids. (PS- that still tops the throne on my daily commute playlist-4 years running.) ‘Killing Time’ adds a new flavor to the recipe, displaying the band’s knack for altering the mood by taking us to more darker territories. ‘Do You Really?’ has that thumping bass line flirting with the listener all through their 4 minute parade. Have you ever listened to new albums coming out by artists and were disappointed when you don’t hear that one track that would bring out the best in the band’s work and become that standout track that defines that particular release? ‘Slow Motion’ was fucking unbelievable and made my jaw drop. This track stands out as the best for me on this release. It still gives me chills listening to it on repeat. The vocalist’s baritone execution is totally on point. So is the perfect display of controlled, chaotic drumming, letting you sense the urgency of the music and the message. This is a totally different TSY I am hearing, and I am absolutely floored. Explosive, dark, and gloomy, yet this is where the band shines the most, and perfectly displays their influences from the Post-Punk era with a nod in the direction of the late singer-songwriter Ian Kevin. This could have easily been chosen to make the final roster for inclusion to the legendary Pinoy Indie compilation “Subterranean Romance” put out in ’87.
I’ve skipped back and forth across the whole record trying to find any hints of keyboards added to their mix, and I’m pretty sure a couple of tracks have them. Is this a sign of things to come for TSY? Who knows. They keep me on my toes, though, so that is something good for me. The lyrical themes touch on desolation, emptiness, and alienation. Some very common human emotions that ordinary folks feel. And as honest as they are, the band also subtly kick major label and mainstream, corporate entities’ asses by sticking to their guns and consistently playing hardcore and punk shows, as opposed to playing le bourgeois shows plagued by trust fund kids looking to cash in on their next big discoveries. TSY continues to release their music independently, with help from independent labels. They control their work. They do the band on their own terms and conditions. And that really is something I honestly respect. These band members have been former players in the Powerviolence, Punk, Hardcore, Indie & Alternative music scenes from 2 decades back so they are, by and large scene vets, so to speak. I am not gonna see this band play at any kind of Pulp or Wanderland shows in the imminent future.
When I hear a band and obsess about them, I want to hear something new every time. The Skeleton Years manage to do it naturally with “In Memoriam”. This is definitely making it to my recommended To-Buy lists of 2017. Add a little darkness to your Christmas.