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Panic Room

Crossover Prog

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Panic Room Skin album cover
3.70 | 115 ratings | 9 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2012

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Song for Tomorrow (6:16)
2. Chameleon (6:52)
3. Screens (4:44)
4. Supernova (5:25) *
5. Chances (5:54)
6. Tightrope Walking (7:08)
7. Promises (5:24)
8. Velvet & Stars (3:16)
9. Reflection (10:09) *
10. Freefalling (6:11)
11. Skin (5:18)
12. Hiding the World (5:18)
13. Nocturnal (7:48)

Total Time 79:43

* bonus tracks on Extended Edition only

Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Davies / guitars
- Jonathan Edwards / keyboards, piano, electric guitar
- Gavin John Griffiths / drums
- Anne Marie Helder / vocals, 6 & 12-string acoustic guitars
- Yatim Halimi / fretted & fretless basses

- Dave Larkin / violin
- Henry Salmon / violin
- Allan Grant / viola
- Leah Evans / cello

Releases information

The first 2000 orders placed receive the stunning 'digipak' version of Skin an exclusive special edition with extended artwork and a beautiful fold-out design. After that releases are the standard jewel-case edition.

Released by Esoteric Antenna (EANTCD1006), a division of Cherry Red Records on June 25, 2012

Thanks to psarros for the addition
and to yam yam & projeKct for the last updates
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Buy PANIC ROOM Skin Music

PANIC ROOM Skin ratings distribution

(115 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(50%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

PANIC ROOM Skin reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Surprising to see that over a month after its release, Skin, the latest album from Panic Room has yet to receive a full review. All the more surprising considering it's such a good album.

Those who are familiar with Panic Room will know what to expect here. There are no great leaps forward stylistically; just a band doing what they do well, i.e. melodic commercial rock with prog flourishes. In some ways Skin is a less varied album than Satellite, for the large part taking an atmospheric low key approach with slowish tempo's. As expected Anne Marie Helder sings beautifully, one of the finest vocalists in the UK, but rarely stretches her voice like I know she can, with that playfulness she often has missing. This is no criticism, she does everything the material requires of her and I admire her mature approach for not going over the top when it's not needed.

Skin is a consistently excellent album with strong melodies that are hard not to like. Those who like their prog a bit more adventurous may find it a bit tame but there's no denying the quality on offer. It may have benefited from a few more heavier and up tempo moments along the lines of the meatier Hiding The World, Chances with its driving acoustic guitar riff and Promises dramatic ending, but nevertheless works very nicely as it is; a great album to chill out too, very well played by all.

P.S. I forgive the band for forgetting to put the stamps on my Cd package costing me 2.10 and a trip to the sorting office to reclaim it ;-)

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Hello? Jody, is that you?

Well, I vowed to follow the career of this stellar little Karnataka off-shoot and I certainly cannot even glimpse at the thought of any regret, as I am a sucker for female vocal fronted prog bands anyway. Panic Room continues on its merry prog way, with Anne-Marie Helder's lush voice leading the way and proposing a new set list of impressive and romantic songs that skirt with the outer edges of progressive rock, nothing too complicated and technical, relying purely on emotion and atmosphere. But the quality of the overall package has leaped ahead by a zillion miles, a complete success on every front.

There are some new positives that will anoint this release with an impeccable rating: on the third try, they get the artwork they deserve as the previous two covers were rather insipid, this one strangely very similar to Quidam's latest, sort of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo- like, a bare lady in an icy, desolate forest gloom. Gruesomely effective. Secondly, musically there is a massive improvement to an all-ready high quality of playing, the band has recruited new bass player Yatim Halimi who makes his presence felt all over, as the fretless bass rules the low end majestically. The intricate drumming is also very obvious, Gavin John Griffiths raising quite a few eyebrows, keyboardist Jonathan Edwards using a vast arsenal of keys (piano, organ, synths and e-piano) but also creative with diverse tones and tangent structures. Lastly, Paul Davies displays a corporeal tone, certainly ballsier than ever before, with a higher level of masculinity in his playing, yet extremely inventive in his stylings. Finally, a string quartet adds some orchestral dimension that bodes well for the symphonic sheen that this material clearly deserves.

The entire song list is effortlessly memorable, diverse and astounding, showing an uncanny resourcefulness that eliminates any semblance of sameness, such as on the mercurial "Screens", a sparkling piece with string quartet, burping bass, polyrhythmic beats and a surly synth-lead , all held together by some weighty riffs, a stubborn stop and go lead guitar solo that is gigglingly original. The preceding "Chameleon" is a haunting slice of cinema-prog, highly evocative and hypnotic, like a sensual opiate cloud armed with a sultry vocal that sweetly swerves into the brain. The mid-section piano solo is consummate stuff; the silky almost jazzy approach most noteworthy. For the romantics out there, some great love songs are here to wallow in such as the string- driven "Chances" with its serene Spanish guitar section and some wonderful vocals from Anne-Marie (a lovely looker to boot) and a colossal orchestral outro. I mean, WOW! The mood settles into dreamscapes with the suave "Tightrope Walking", a 7 minute flight of thrilling sounds, featuring a simple beat, amplified by wobbly bass and uncomplicated piano, a painstaking lament that slowly grows in stature and expression, tossing in some slight Arabic tinges, coupled with fine e-piano noodlings, string quartet denouement and a few axe frills. "Promises" is even sexier, a ringing ELO-like theme, Anne-Marie mischievously vocalizing while the bass pummels a Native American styled riff and a sudden swirling synth tornado to keep the panting honest. The power is propelled by a crescendo chorus that reaches for the skies and will be sure to leave a lasting impression. A shorter, acoustic ballad, "Velvet and Stars" proposes a fragile vocal that proves what many already believe, Helder is an awesome talent that can only get even better! Acoustic guitar and voice, that's it! Bravo! "Freefalling", well with a title like that, you would think of Tom Petty, wouldn't you? Except this is a 6 minute shuffling masterpiece, a gasping love affair of sound and texture, very sexy and appealing in its utter simplicity. Hey, its definitely not math-rock but WTH, one cannot dine on blitzkrieg riffs for ever (wait until you get older and crankier!), this is unabashedly feminine prog which serves up a great purpose when you eschew your masturbatory (read = lonely) prog collection and settle into some musical cuddling with your female partner. An amazing tune!

The title track is another hallmark track, straightforward but devastating lead vocal, a plea of crushing beauty and immeasurable delivery, within a huge orchestral flow. Enough said, world class ballad. Yeah, syrupy stuff but "Hiding the World" gets nice and aggressive, so as to counterbalance all that sweetness and melancholia, sounding like fellow compatriots Touchstone, combining dynamic riffs with monster drumming and relentless pummeling. This splendid disc climaxes with the appropriate "Nocturnal", a haunting piano-led reverie that defies description, an epic piece that introduces the night and all its fragile shimmering , a howling voice beckoning the gentleness of nature's rest and all its little pleasures. The piano rollicks sensually, violins in embrace, prepping the ground for the urgent and desperate guitar solo and all restrained emotion, waiting to explode. Helder wails like a woman possessed, how can anyone resist this?

Move over Mostly Autumn, Iona, Karnataka, the Reasoning, Legend, Magenta and other female voice-led bands , Panic Room has arrived. Only Frequency Drift's latest can rival this one for 2012's top album crown. This is a fantastic release, not a stinker or filler in the lot. A soundtrack for carnal exploration is just as proggy as a Roine Stolt solo or a Portnoy drum fill. So brand this as "Prog with benefits" and you will not be disappointed.

You can kiss your progman again, darling! My goodness, you are in the mood, aren't you?

5 radiant dermatologists

Review by kev rowland
3 stars It's strange to think that Panic Room are on their third album ? they of course formed out of Karnataka, a band I caught in concert years ago. To be honest I had gone to see support act Sleeping Giant who were themselves an offshoot of Mr So & So, and having such a great band as support plus having Steve Rothery stand up to play with SG as well probably didn't help any and I wasn't overly impressed with what I saw in the main act. But, I have always loved Anne Marie Helder's vocals so I was really looking forward to this album, and straight away I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed. The effective, atmospheric, artwork demands that the listener plays close attention, so I did. The music is effective, complex and layered, and is obviously just there as a vehicle as all focus are on the vocals.

There is a good use of strings and plain old piano as opposed to complex keyboards, and the drums are sometimes incredibly effective. Ah, there is the word "Sometimes". Yep, many are going to see this as a truly great album and not for the first time people are going to disagree with me, but I feel that while there are some truly great songs and wonderful performances this isn't a great album.

Why? Because vocal delivery on many of the songs are similar throughout and there isn't enough variety in the music either. I found that if I just played one song (and I honestly do love the opener "Song For Tomorrow") then I enjoyed it much more than if I played the whole thing. There are times when the drums can actually be intrusive, and while the bass is warm and inviting the strinsgs and production do make me feel that I am being smothered in a blanket. "Screens" stands out like an oasis with it's harder more rocking style which I thought was great, although the vocals weren't as rough and ready as they could have been, and I just wish that there had been more of this.

So for me this is a missed opportunity and while I am sure that I will be returning to this often, it will only be for one or two songs at a time as opposed to working through the album in its' entirety.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars PANIC ROOM is a fairly new band from the United Kingdom formed around 2005. When I was approached to review their newest album called Skin (2012), I have to say that I had some concerns. I am very open to mostly any kind of music, especially when it comes to Progressive Rock, but the name of Anne-Marie Helder, their vocalist, brings me some mixed feelings. I knew her from bands like KARNATAKA and MOSTLY AUTUMN and these bands are quiet weak when it comes to Progressive Rock. They have light influence by the genre and a lot of Pop Rock. Don't get me wrong, I like good Pop Rock a lot but not when it is sold as Progressive Rock.

But I decided not to pay attention to that and listen to the album with care. Skin (2012) was recorded in the Sonic One studio and mastered at Close To The Edge. The album had Tim Hamill as mixer and engineer and it was produced by members of the band: Anne-Marie Helder (vocals and guitars), Jonathan Edwards (keyboards and guitars) and Tim Hamill. The band's line-up included also Paul Davies (guitars), Gavin John Griffiths (drums) and Yatim Halimi (bass). Skin (2012) was released by Esoteric Antenna/Cherry Red Records in June.

When 'Song For Tomorrow' starts, the pop accent I was worried about is shown and it continues on the second track 'Chameleon'. But to tell the truth, it is a minor thing. Both songs are well written and catchy, including wonderful pianos and vocals. Anne-Marie Helder was elected in 2011 as Best Female Vocalist by the Classic Rock Presents Prog magazine and listening to this songs you understand why.

But at the same time tracks like 'Chances' almost ruin everything. It is Pop and with no trace of interesting parts, just chorus repeating endlessly. Another one like this is 'Freefalling' that begins acoustic and pretty and soon turns out to be a semi electronic piece of music, which doesn't make sense at all.

But the Prog moments are what makes the band shine. Like on the third track 'Screens', or 'Tightrope Walking' with the indian mysterious feeling, a good riff and The Larkin Quartet performing on it. All of it make it a great track. They should have used strings in more tracks. 'Hiding The World' and the last track, 'Nocturnal' are another good moments on the album. The former has great vocals by Anne-Marie. Unfortunately, there are few moments like these on Skin (2012), not even half of the album. In the end, what makes me worried before listening to the album turns out to be a fact. PANIC ROOM is a very nice band but not really Progressive Rock. They belong to the subgenre that some call Crossover Prog. The album is quite fine and enjoyable as a whole but the problem here is that they're not Pop enough to be called Pop and not Prog enough to be called Prog, if you know what I mean. This road was travelled before by many bands (as with the new album by the Polish band Quidam) and the result is always the same. They don't have good audience in both sides of the spectrum. It is very hard to please Prog lovers with Pop and vice-versa.

The truth is, if you like to have light Prog music that's not intricate or complex, this is the perfect band/album for you. But if you're looking for some listening challenges' you'll not find them here.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
4 stars I will come right out and say that I am very impressed with this release from Panic Room. I had no expectations going into "Skin", as this is my first experience with the UK-based outfit. However, they have gained my immediate attention, and also my anticipation for their recently announced 2014 album.

Panic Room is a female-fronted progressive rock band that utilizes dark guitar atmospheres, some novel instruments, and incredible violins. The rock music is very well performed, and it is augmented with some electronic elements and a melancholy ambiance that draws you into the emotions being portrayed here. Really, the violin is masterfully performed and written, as can be seen on such tracks as "Tightrope Walking" and "Promises". It is simply astounding to see such inventive and purposeful use of an instrument that is usually more atmospheric or orchestral. Here it is raw, vulnerable, and beautiful.

Speaking of raw and vulnerable, I think the cover art really showcases what you will experience. Confusion and insecurity reign in the lyrical content, and you can really detect the feelings of vulnerability portrayed by the nudity in the open forest. Wet, alone, and possibly scared, "Skin" is a fascinating look into a melancholy mind.

Anne Helder has one of the best female voices I've ever heard. Actually, she has one of the best voices I've ever heard, male or female. Clear, concise, and extremely melodious, Anne's voice is powerful when necessary and small when appropriate. "Impressed" doesn't begin to address her voice. More like "astonished" or "flabbergasted". I was, strangely enough, especially interested in her ability to annunciate but still keep the melody intact. That's talent! I can think of no great compliment than to say that she reminds me of a younger Anne Jobs Bender of the band Introitus. Amazing!

Dark, emotive, and hauntingly beautiful; "Skin" is a near-masterpiece, and I am confident that Panic Room's next album will be something special. I really hope they can continue their very personal style of music.

Latest members reviews

4 stars I love Panic Room, and while they wouldn't be in my top 10 bands, all of their albums are worth listening to. The main complaints against the album under review, Skin, seems to be that there's not enough complexity and variety. I think these shortcomings are not vital, and I think Skin is a 4 ... (read more)

Report this review (#1219217) | Posted by thwok | Tuesday, July 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Panic Room Skin Would you rate Uriah Heep Magician's Birthday or Wishbone Ash Argus 1-3 stars just because they are not complex enough? I doubt. The same is with Panic Room Skin. The complexity is not a high point of these 11 songs set, where almost each of them has a small neat moment. So n ... (read more)

Report this review (#1192054) | Posted by toilet_doctor | Saturday, June 14, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My introduction to the UK prog/folk rock outfit Panic Room came via the excellent, "Satellite" album which was released in 2010. I came away with a very positive impression of the band. Now with their 3rd album, "Skin", Panic Room have upped the ante and released a solid follow- up to "Satellit ... (read more)

Report this review (#1064315) | Posted by FemmeMetalWebzine | Monday, October 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars With great expectations I entered the new album of Panic Room in my player, heard so many positive things about it. The first composition "Song For Tomorrow" starts with a beautiful symphonic rock theme, a bit (too) similar to a theme I already heard in an old Kayak song. So far so good. Lead si ... (read more)

Report this review (#817645) | Posted by ProgPanda 2/71 | Sunday, September 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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