REVIEW: For All I Am - Skinwalker

Genre: Post-Hardcore/Metalcore
Label: Equal Vision
Date of Release: January 22, 2013


For All I Am is a band that knows how to put the energy in metalcore. They formed back in 2011 as I, Artificial (Which would later become the name of one of their songs) in Chicago, Illinois. The quintet released their debut EP “Lone Wolf” within the same year they were established. This grabbed the attention of New York label Equal Vision Records, famous for signing bands such as We Came As Romans, Chiodos, and Texas In July. Afterwards, 2013 would see the release of their first full-length album, simply called “Skinwalker.” Loaded with ten tracks, this record will prove to be quite a decent start for this up and coming group.

The musicianship, quite frankly, is nothing too special or out of the ordinary for its genre. However, that being said, there is still plenty to enjoy from it. The vocals, firstly, are quite decent. It is clear that the singer is putting a lot of energy into both his aggressive vocal roars and his clean singing, even though there are times where they sound a tad forced. Next, the guitars are also well performed. They possess a healthy range between brutal riffs and poppy melodies, some of which are very gripping. Along with that, the drums are also done well. There is nothing particularly technical to keep listeners engaged, but even so, they are solidly played and do sound great. On that subject, the production, done by Will Putney, who has also done work with bands such as The Human Abstract and Upon A Burning Body, is stellar. Just like with his other client albums, the sound is very crisp and every musical element stands out nicely. Both the musicianship and the production are overall executed successfully.

“Skinwalker” is an album packed with an energetic mix between metalcore and post-hardcore. Along with the musicianship, the music itself is quite generic, and anyone looking for any signs of innovation for the genre will sadly and probably find nothing here to gorge in. Even so, though, that does not necessarily mean there isn’t anything to enjoy in this album. The greatest strength of the record is its vigor, in the musicianship, gripping parts, and the speed and dynamic of the music. One moment, the music stays still as abrasive metalcore with brutal riffs and breakdowns, but then in the next part, the album shifts into melodic post-hardcore. This helps in not only broadening its audience by a fair amount in terms of genre diversity, but it also keeps the album engaging. On top of that, the song structures are not only solidly built, but they also are a tad unpredictable at times, helping in the record’s investment factor. Although there is not much “Skinwalker” has to offer in terms of inventiveness, it does have plenty of elements and tidbits to take pleasure in listening to.

In context of the lyrics, the word “Skinwalker” refers to the mythical being that holds the ability to shape-shift into any animal. Deriving from this, the lyrics deal with personal experiences and issues, including those involving deceit, which is especially the case with tracks such as “Forgotten” and “Eye of the Storm.” They also iris in on topics such as positivity (Make History) and musical integrity (I, Artificial). Overall, they are well written and actually rather powerful in their message, as well as fitting for the energetic tone set for the music itself. They are some potent lyrics accompanying some potent hardcore.

Overall, “Skinwalker” is a decent metalcore effort, and a relatively strong step forward for the band. It fares well in how energetic it is, in both the musicianship and the music itself. Even though the singing sounds a little too forced at times, the musicianship nonetheless carries its weight quite well. The blend between melodic post-hardcore and heavy metalcore makes way for some solid and invigorating tunes, and it also clears a path for some memorable hooks. The lyrical content is also pretty well written, in both the messages and the way they are carried out. As stated earlier, there is nothing very innovative or special about the music’s formula, being a run-of-the-mill melodic hardcore release, but it is still a likeable listen. Therefore, although people indifferent to the metalcore and post-hardcore genres may not find much to check out here, anyone within that spectrum should find at least something to like about this fine release. Hence the vivid album artwork, For All I Am is a promising band that is all about the ferocity.

Score: 7/10 (Solid)