The sophomore slump is perhaps one of the most dreaded moments in any artist or band’s career. When a debut achieves any measure of success or recognition, there arise certain expectations on the part of the audience (and the record label) to repeat or even surpass that success. In 1994, Eric Powell had many a promise to keep after the previous year’s release of Wisdom placed 16volt on the map of the industrial unde- ground. With that album’s “Motorskill” making waves on the dance floor, influenced in equal parts by Ministry and Skinny Puppy, it was the release of 1994’s ‘Skin’ on Re-constriction Records that would truly set the tone for 16volt’s future. Now remastered and rereleased by Metropolis Records, Skin is made available once again, including bonus-tracks/remixes. Right from the onset of the opening title track, Skin is immediately a much more hard-hitting and straightforward affair than Wisdom. Whereas songs on Wisdom were allowed to move at a leisurely pace to allow listeners to breathe in the noxious fumes of 16volt’s industrial wasteland, Skin is a far more urgent outing. A stark atmosphere and slow tempo underscores Powell’s vocal venom, seething with unrestrained and un-effected aggression as a pummeling assault of organic drums and growling guitars dominates the chorus. Before you know it, the song is concluded, leading into the sinister, repeating sound of a broken doll’s laughter that introduces us to the pulsating bass and factory-like loops of “Perfectly Fake.” Metallic squeals of guitar harmonics resonate above slithering samples to create the ambience of a decrepit machine in its death throes, while Powell signs in contrasting tones from guttural verses to soft choruses that belie the venom of his lyrics. Similarly, “Slow Wreck” moves with hollow atmosphere hovering beneath mechanical guitar riffs and atonal feedback howls, all the while the drums march precise and sparse. Along with instrumentals like “Skin Graft,” “Bottle Rockets,” and “Flick” with their loops of percussive power and random, noisy synthetic environments, Skin is pure unadulterated machine rock at its finest. . Skin was no sophomore slump for 16volt. On the contrary, after 18 years, Skin is just as freshly vitriolic and caus- tically aggressive as it was in 1994; a milestone for the industrial rock scene. In short, Metropolis’ release of Skin is a welcome addition to the 16volt discography and a reminder to the industrial underground what coldwave is meant to sound like.