Meltdown

WASP FACTORY ALBUM LAUNCH – UNDERWORLD, DECEMBER 3 2000(The Rattler,Meltdown Magazine)
In the bravest move of the night (besides introducing themselves as “The Skin Engine”, that is!), Lee Chaos and G Skinflower decide to open their sets with one of the latter band’s folkier numbers – just G on the guitar/backing vox and Lee on vocals. This naturally leaves a lot of people scratching their heads but it sounds awesome nonetheless. Their voices really go well with each other and the song itself reminds me of Radiohead’s rare good bits.The rest of The Chaos Engine, along with R Skinflower, file out shortly afterwards and burst into a two-bass/two-guitar version of the superb but oft-neglected early Skinflowers song “Thrillseeker” and it sounds KILLER! It’s so difficult to pinpoint just *what* it sounds like but with ten extra strings than are normally used, it definately gets a ballsier ‘rock’ vibe going which escalates into the utterly *FURIOUS* assault of “Employee Of The Year” sounding bigger, meaner and downright harder than *EVER* before (God, I sound like a DAZ advert -“Now with 20% more noise!”)!

Lee, clearly ecstatic from the massive ‘beefing up’ of the Chaos Sound, is flinging himself everywhere, getting ridiculously into it whilst G Skinflower (“He used to be such a nice boy” ;)) clearly is enjoying his transformation into ‘Rock God’, which becomes more apparent as he throws off his guitar and trades vicious lead vocals with Lee in one of his own songs that sounds crushingly heavy and surprisingly (due to the use of a drum machine) very rhythmic. Major credit to them for not letting the programmed percussion get lost under a haze of guitar. I shudder to think how bruising it would’ve sounded with live drums!

After a truly crushing reworking of “Purge” that sounds like Ministry at their best and most brutal, the crowd-pleasing (and now *way* heavy) “888” fills the dancefloor up before (unpredictable as ever) they finish with a 6 or 7 minute ‘space rock’ version of the Skinflowers “I Don’t Need More Money, I Need More Time” featuring THREE guitars (Lee, Kelly and G), one bass and the amazing Dr Who-esque talents of Huw Chaos on the keyboards! Rar! Corking stuff. It’s a great song anyway with an truly astounding chorus (again, think of the *good* parts about Radiohead without the whining) but morphed into this monster of a rendition it sounds even better. Epic is the word I’m looking for.

Undoubtably ‘The Skin Engine’ are the hardest to define collaboration on the bill tonight and this in itself is a massive compliment. There’s bleeps but there’s serious rock. There’s techno but there’s also metal. There’s unquestionably a seriously punk attitude going on, but hang about, didn’t they just play about seven minutes worth of space rock? And wait a minute, they opened with a folk song!