by SkinGod

Track listing: Inside, Clouds, Alone, Anybody Wonder, Ghost

I first met SkinGod's singer/songwriter/spiritual-guide Ronnie Shingelo in the summer of 2003, as he assembled an early version of the band to play a daytime slot before one of Bruce Springsteen's 10 sold-out concerts at The Meadowlands. As the drummer for that show, I quickly became aware that SkinGod was not merely an assemblage of songs. Ronnie takes his music seriously, living and breathing it as one might incorporate yoga, meditation, and diet into their lifestyle. Rehearsals and voice lessons are Ronnie's own musical church, through which he communicates his innermost thoughts.

With Frailty, SkinGod has captured pristine, energetic interpretations of newer songs alongside others that have developed over the past several years. "Inside" comes across with a musical power and intensity that matches its lyrics. "Ghost" drives deliberately, with bass and drums pounding unrelentingly through the verses, a haunting guitar flowing around them, but all giving way to a half-time chorus that features a high-and-tight vocal harmony. The song ends with a build on all fronts, wailing guitars and drums and a delightfully unique Shingelo shriek (as seen here, where SkinGod rocks New York's legendary Bitter End as hard as it can be rocked).

Though built around brooding minor keys and tom-pounding drumbeats, there's a passion and belief in SkinGod that goes beyond the sound. There is a faith, a dedication, and a focus that drives SkinGod forward. Frailty serves as a brilliant illustration of what happens at this intersection of musical precision, beauty, strength, creativity, and one's inner passions.

Posted on 9/5/08