There’s something to be said for listening to an unsigned band. Youthful exuberance perhaps, untarnished by the constraints of a pushy record company or the pressure of being in the public eye. Skirmish, however, prove that there is normally a reason why a band hasn’t secured a record deal. It’s understandable that this six-track demo will sound raw, unprofessional and messy. But what’s not forgivable is how frankly boring the whole thing is. Opener “Over Dose” is darkish and vaguely Muse-esq, but lacking the inventiveness. The next two tracks, “Away & Gone” and “Discarded” are further evidence of the band’s reliance on distorted guitars, slap bass and angry teenage angst lyrics, culminating in this over-heavy uninspiring disorder which sounds like it was produced by a pretty poor sixth-form band. To put it clearly, this is music for fourteen-year-old boys to mosh to at a school gig.
Then we get to the second half of the album. Instead of failing miserably to emulate Muse when they are good (guitar-based soaring rawk), Skirmish fail even more miserably to emulate Muse when they are bad (piano-based pretentious rubbish). “Ghost Town” is six minutes of plodding, repetitive direness, and anyone who manages to sit through the thing more than once without going mad is obviously mad already. “Black Notes” is just under six minutes of plodding repetitive direness, but this time with added painful weirdo jazz interlude. The real killer though is final track, which is nine minutes and forty two seconds (!) of really plodding, really repetitive direness with added painful guitar solos. It’s called “What Were You Thinking?”; what Skirmish should be asking themselves after sending this demo out to be slaughtered by amateur music journos.
The music industry is not an easy, friendly place. Skirmish obviously aren’t ready to take it on, as this over-ambitious six-track collection shows, and should really offer something a bit more listenable if they want to be taken seriously at all.