[1st February 2014]
2. Shin To Shin
4. Don’t Lose Your Way
5. Costumes And Masks
6. Drifting Away
7. Step Up And Shout
If you ever happen to find yourself longing for the good ol’ days of 90′s hardcore, and you lack the essential tools to travel back in time to relish in those glory days, there is a remedy to scratch that itch. Other than simply revisiting older albums (which is in no way a bad idea), there are bands today that strive to keep the sound and the spirit alive. Enter Shin To Shin, whose founding and sole member Aaron Melnick (of In Cold Blood/ex-Integrity fame) looks to keep that momentum alive with the release of his self-titled debut LP.
Shin To Shin is the vision and creation of Melnick, who fully conceived, wrote and performed all music on the album, minus the drums – and he even took lead on the recording process, which took place at Cleveland’s Mars Studio, while mixing duties were handled at Developing Nations. The album itself is no long stride, with a total running time clocking in at just over twenty minutes. Each song is neither too long to cause boredom, or short enough to leave you wanting more. Providing enough hooks and breaks to keeps the pace moving along, the album does little to re-invent the wheel, but its homage to a classic sound is enough to warrant multiple listens. Taking into account the history of Mr. Melnick, it is no surprise he is able to nail that 90′s feel; each song rings of nostalgia.
The album is book-ended by two instrumental tracks. The intro is full of solos, hard hitting drums and lots of wailing chord-work, and the tempo ranges between mid and low, and serve as an example for the rest of the album’s structure. Immediately following is the title track, and in despite being under two minutes, the song hits hard; the drums and riffs create a stop and go rhythm, and Aaron’s shouts add to the song’s overall battering tone. “Extinction” is one of the faster tracks on the album, sounding more akin to metallic hardcore in the vein of Integrity and Ringworm, while “Don’t Lose Your Way” shifts focus back to a more heavier tone, yet brings back the pace from the previous song for its closer.
The second half of the album relies more on low-tempo, heavier sounding riffs, and the vocals are steeped in a deeper, darker tone. “Costumes And Masks” is pretty vile sounding – reminiscent of the darker side of Integrity - while “Drifting Away” touches upon stoner-esque qualities, with heavily echoed and layered vocals, as a wailing solo adds a haunting atmosphere to the mix.
Coming up on the end of the album, “Step Up And Shout” offers a great build-up that leads to a galloping array of guitar and drum work, but in essence, just re-uses the same structure heard in previous songs. The highlight of the album though, is its closer – a simply executed instrumental that is the opposite of every other song. It’s melodic and ghostly, where single strums of the chords are the driving force, and with no other instrumentation. It offers a nice break from the album’s overall heaviness.
With the production giving the album a more rough, natural feel, Shin To Shin is a great reminder of those early hardcore records and the scene itself at that time. Although serving as more of a niche album – one which will be favored among those who grew up around that time – it probably won’t lend itself to anyone who wasn’t or isn’t a fan of hardcore. But for those who dig Ringworm, Integrity, In Cold Blood and the like, they will definitely find enjoyment in this album, and gladly add it to their playlist for future listens.