The cross-pollination of metal’s various sub-genres has resulted in a raft of vibrant, innovative and enthralling albums these past few years. And while incorporating diverse influences and varying one’s sound is to be applauded, there are always albums on which such ambitious endeavors are not matched by a sense of cohesion. Unfortunately, such is the case with Article XIX, the debut full-length from six-piece progressive metal outfit Skin the Pig.
Originally formed in 2000, Skin the Pig deserves a great deal of credit for its tenacity, determination and enthusiasm. And the band’s blend of prog, sludge, death and various “core” metal accoutrements is certainly dynamic and adventurous. The opening track, “Stendhal Syndrome”, reveals a lot of jazzed-up post-metal promise, and the follow-up bombastic gallop of “I Rise, You Fall” thrums with a great deal of expediency. But one aspect that grates is that passages of technically sublime metal, like those found on “Yet Nameless” and “No Man’s Land”, are undermined by other tracks beset by characterless riffs and prosaic angry/wistful dual vocals. It makes for a frustrating listen, especially as there are so many moments in which the band’s obvious talents shine.