Panic Lift - Skeleton Key
Released 2016 by Metropolis Records
I have come to realize today that I am swarmed with so much music that often times I forget about projects that I used to listen to on a steady playlist just a few years back. It's quite sad that such projects become forgotten and on the back of my mind that when I do rediscover them it takes me back to my high school years when I was first discovering industrial during the harsh EBM/aggrotech fanaticism which is now clearly marked by disgust for some odd reason. Anyway, when I got the promotional invitation for Panic Lift's Skeleton Key I was taken a bit back and remembered, "Fuck, I used to listen to these guys all the time."
Rather than jump into their new album I immediately got on YouTube and looked up their song 'Everything I Have'. I sat back and reminisced my earlier pubescent years which passed by not too long ago when I was fat and strange - well I'm still strange at the very least. The song actually gave me goosebumps. Then I flipped the switch and went to their new album Skeleton Key. What a shock that was.
While the Panic Lift I remember from the days of Witness To Our Collapse are far gone and understanding that I missed 2012's Is This Goodbye?, hearing the new, crisper production on Skeleton Key snapped me back to the present and forced me to realize that, just as I have, Panic Lift has matured and turned into a brand new beast. Gone are the harsh EBM/aggrotech trademarks I was so accustomed to and in came soe really, really great EBM, industrial, and electrorock songs.
Electrorock kicks off the album with 'Time Enough At Last' wherein James Francis alternates between singing, and digitally distorted screaming. Again, it was quite shocking hearing such high production values. There's even the more metal tinged track 'Mercy Home' which takes this style on a darker spin later in the album.
What was perhaps a little more shocking was Panic Lift's ability to switch in and out from synth/electropop on songs such as 'Paper Mask', 'This Poison Remains', 'From Blue To Black' and 'Finally What You Wanted'. While the vocals do flirt between clean and distorted sounds, these tracks are no doubt more upbeat and bouncy. However, the parts where the screaming commences are complimented with EBM influences and darkened electronics.
'A Ghost Story' even proved Panic Lift to be competent at creating a decent alternative rock song. Sure, there were some electronic elements on the song but for the most part 'A Ghost Story' is a decent, noisey alt-rock track. 'Of Shadows and Trees' sort of had the same vibe about it, opting out heavy electronic influences minus some glitches for an alt-rock feel.
'The Path' and 'How Long It Takes To Break' sort of brought Panic Lift back to an era that I remember as it cranks out a stomping EBM rhythm with a full song's worth of pissed of harsh vocals. This is something that I was more used to, just cleaner with better mastering, production, and with an overall great increase in quality and sound.
The title track of the album 'Skeleton Key' as well as the final track 'Lighthouse (By My Side Tonight)' are in entirely different boats all on their own. Forgoing everything that I heard on the album thus far, both tracks brought me into the realm of dreampop where - every now and again - rougher and darker sessions would penetrate the fabrication. Oh, and I shan't forget to mention Panic Lift's cover of Ministry's 'Everyday is Halloween'. Damned foolish of me to miss that considering Halloween just passed.
So, sure, Panic Lift isn't exactly how I remember them, but that's a damned good thing. They have upped their game and they sound better than ever. I will always have a special place in my heart for their 2008 era of music and the like, but I can slap that nostalgia factor in the face to appreciate Skeleton Key. The album has heart, it's got all sorts of genres mixed in, and it has a damned good cover song. You can't really ask for much more than that. Don't be like me and miss out on Panic Lift...Speaking of which, I need to go check out Is This Goodbye? now. So, I guess saying goodbye would be appropriate. GOODBYE.
Nov 17 2016
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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Panic Lift - Skeleton Key is available at POPONAUT from 14,95€