Where The Skeletons Play serve up an intricate mix of Tool style patient repetition with Jesu’s sinister ambience on their debut release Generation Wars a record that contrasts delicate touches with blasts of volume.
Generation Wars, and the track No One’s Born a Criminal most explicitly, covers the demonization of Britain’s young people: “You don’t want the truth/ just blame it on the youth”. This generation of protesting yet fee-paying students and rioting kids – so frequently smeared as ‘feral’ and lacking basic decency – are defended as Where The Skeletons Play turn these accusations on the accusers. Did the deprived environments that saw the explosion of petty crime and violence not have something to do with that behaviour? Do Britain’s politicians, bankers and general society not have some hand in the acts of its children? As the band remind us “no one’s born a criminal”. These issues are complex: there can be no more pining for When the world was in black and white, if it ever was.
Prison sentences, increased tuition fees, scrapping the EMA and cutting benefits disproportionately for women and the under-25s have been hallmarks of this government’s failing doctrine. By choosing former international drug dealer and counter cultural raconteur Howard Mark’s prison ID as the title of the closing track Where The Skeletons Play show which side of the fence they come down on. Clue: it’s not Conservative.
Despite employing few catchy hooks or many sing-a-long slogans Generation Wars stands out using surges of distorted guitar atop melodic bass-lines and subtle electronics while singer Stitch vocals range from sung-spoken monologues to distorted and emotional bawls at the top of his lungs like on When the World was in Black and White where he sounds like Filter’s Robert Patrick on a good day.
The squalls, swells and booming guitar are assembled with care, the production is impressive and the band’s lyrical themes never overwhelm as much time is given over to instrumental passages, though I hope these themes are not ignored. Generation Wars is an intriguing and possibly overdue record.
First published on: roomthirteen