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Allmusic reviews 'Don't Open Till Doomsday'

Allmusic webzine reviews 'Don't Open Till Doomsday'

by Tomas Mureika
20 Dec 2008

After a serious bout with Crohn's Disease, keyboardist George Pappas left Real Life to form a one-man project, Alien Skin. His debut effort, Don't Open Till Doomsday, finds him in the same darkwave territory as his work with Real Life, only with a much more melancholy and scary feel.

The opening track, "The Outer Limits" hangs on an ominous chorus: "I'm gasping for breath...From the outer limits/To the center of my eyes" sings Pappas as synths of strings wash over him.

The mood remains somber throughout, especially on the excellent "Saviour," "Razor Arms," and "Gloomy Sunday" (an original track -- not the much-covered classic -- for which the Associates do the definitive version).

Pappas sounds almost like 'A Split Second' as he moves into dance territory on "The Spirit Is Willing" and the apocalyptic, "Dust to Ashes 1945," while the album closes with "Alien Skin" -- a song that eerily looks at "the stranger within alien skin" -- and on which Pappas tries to explain the feelings behind his illness to the world.

Still very much playing in Real Life's territory, but with darker and much more frightening music and lyrics, Alien Skin is a fascinating debut solo project for an equally fascinating artist. Pappas shows he has the mettle to make it on his own -- it will be interesting to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve on successive albums, although this will definitely satisfy fans and aficionados of darkwave and synth pop alike. The more you listen to it, the more revealing and terrifying it becomes...which, for this album, is indeed a compliment.

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