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Nerve Damage
July 2004
Released: 2004, Century Media
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

What is it like to live in the shadow of another band and constantly be referred to as the lesser of the two? There are two bands who can ably answer that very question: Megadeth and Skinlab. While the former have had their own share of inner demons that may have contributed to their lack of respect, Skinlab has never done anything but slog through the endless comparisons to Machine Head and keep on trying to make a name for themselves. The band has never been bad, but they haven’t done anything particularly remarkable, either. Their thrash/death/nu-metal hybrid is coming up on seven years of existence and pure mediocrity has kept Skinlab from rising above the rest.

With a mere three full-length releases under their belt, Skinlab has been given the retrospective treatment courtesy of Century Media with the sprawling two-disc collection, NERVE DAMAGE, and it is not your typical greatest hits rip-off, either. This is a broad collection of demos, rarities, remixes, live tracks, two new songs and a music video. Also included is a thick booklet with notes for each track and tons of band photos. I can’t imagine there being one, but if there is a die-hard Skinlab fan out there who MUST own absolutely everything they have ever done, look no further than NERVE DAMAGE.

The cream of the crop is the original Skinlab demo. For a demo, the songs are well-produced and show where they were going with their sound. A decent acoustic version of “Purify” is included and the two new tracks aren’t half bad, either. Steer very clear of the Smashing Pumpkins cover and the techno remix of “Slave the Way,” though (who listens to these techno remixes anyway?). The ugly nu-metal influences come through on the tracks from the EYESORE E.P. and further accredit what many of the band’s detractors have said for years about them. Steev Esquivel treats listeners to two tracks from his pre-Skinlab band, Circle of Vengeance. These songs are a blend of bad thrash/speed metal and it seems Esquivel was wise to move on to other things. Live tracks are always a mixed bag and the ones included here fare no better. “Paleface” is warts-and-all rawness with the vocal track cutting out and the instruments bleeding together. The second CD is filled with more live tracks taken from last year’s 4/20 Music Conspiracy. As is always the case, the originals are better, so for collector’s sake, they are worth checking out; for the rest of us, skip them.

I have no real sympathy for Skinlab because I have never really found much to like about them. They aren’t bad; they just sort of…exist. NERVE DAMAGE isn’t the best introduction to a band for someone thinking about checking them out because it really isn’t an accurate reflection of who they are. The packaging is cool and sure the tracks are hard-to-find, so for many people, finally having everything Skinlab did may be a godsend, but there really isn’t much to recommend here to people outside of the Skinlab fan club.
Track Listing

Disc One
1. Losing All (New track)
2. Beneath the Surface (New track)
3. Anthem (Radio Edit)
4. Come Get It (Steve Evetts Mix)
5. One of Us (Steve Evetts Mix)
6. Jesus Cells (Cameron Webb Demo)
7. Disturbing the Art of Expression (Cameron Webb Demo)
8. Take as Needed (Cameron Webb Demo)
9. Bullet with Butterfly Wings (Smashing Pumpkins cover)
10. Slave the Way (Remix)
11. Purify (Acoustic)
12. So Far From the Truth (From EYESORE E.P.)
13. Noah (From EYESORE E.P.)
14. Raza Odiada (Brujeria cover) (From EYESORE E.P.)
15. When Pain Comes to Surface (Demo) (From EYESORE E.P.)
16. Paleface (Live) (From EYESORE E.P.)

Disc Two
1. Paleface (Remixed James Murphy Roadrunner Demo)
2. Promised (Roadrunner Demo)
3. Act of Suffering (Roadrunner Demo)
4. Ten Seconds (Roadrunner Demo)
5. Stumble (From SUFFER E.P.)
6. Down (From SUFFER E.P.)
7. Dissolve (From SUFFER E.P.)
8. Noah (From SUFFER E.P.)
9. Race of Hate (Live Demo)
10. When Pain Comes to Surface (Circle of Vengeance Demo)
11. Blacklist (Circle of Vengeance Demo)
12. Slave the Way (Live 4/20)
13. Purify (Live 4/20)
14. No Sympathy (Live 4/20)
15. Scapegoat (Live 4/20)
16. Know Your Enemies (Live 4/20)
17. Come Get It (Live 4/20)
18. When Pain Comes to Surface (Live)
"Losing All" Video clip


Steev Esquivel—Vocals/Bass
Snake, Glen Telford, Scott Sargeant, Gary Wendt, Adam Albright, Greg Linharus, Brian Regan, Jack Gibson—Guitar
Paul Hopkins, Mike Bennett—Drums

Concert Reviews

Next review: » Skinlab - Nerve Damage
Previous review: » Skinlab - Eyesore EP

Nerve Damage
November 2004
Released: 2004, Century Media
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: JP

It seems a bit premature for a band like this to have a double compilation but seeing as it’s the bands 10 year anniversary or so it makes sense. I’m not a huge Skinlab fan but this is a pretty sweet package. It has 34 tracks over two discs and a video for ‘Losing All’. It includes the Suffer EP and the Eyesore EP, 10 demos tracks, 7 live tracks, a few remixes, cover tines, edits and two new tracks. Talk about value for the fan!

The one thing that does annoy me is that the label in the past has put out so-called ‘rare’ EP’s that are limited edition and hand numbered and so on…’never to be seen again!. Well, just like the Iced Earth Melancholy EP, I go get the rare, hand-numbered Eyesore EP and a few years later the same EP appears here. I understand the fans who don’t have the EP want to hear it but it kind of hypocritical of the label. I’m glad more people get to hear it now.

The package is quite downplayed in terms of design, mostly grey, black and white but there are many, many colour photos. The thing I really like is the track-by-track liner notes. I always appreciate when a band does this as it gives us a little interesting insight into the songs and brings them closer to home perhaps.

The quality of the live tracks are pretty decent all drawn from a festival they did in the Bay Area and they rip through a fairly inspired set of some of their better known songs. The demos are well…demos. I’ve never been a big fan of demo tracks but die-hard fans will eat it up. Remixes…pass. Remixes are for techno bands. The two new tracks were done after the Revolting Room sessions are heavier, more intense than in the previous years.

You’ll notice I didn’t spend an enormous amount of time in this review discussing the actual music. Since this is a collection of stuff from an established band with a solid fan-base and good history it really is directed at fans and collectors perhaps. For those same fans I would give this an additional mark, 4.5 out of five as it is a killer package. I am admittedly a casual fan so for me a collection of remixes and demos of tracks that I wasn’t in love with the first time around, it gets the grade that reflects admiration, and enjoyment and respect but not worshiping praise.
Track Listing






Concert Reviews

Next review: » Skinlab - reVolting Room
Previous review: » Skinlab - Eyesore EP

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