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Release Date: October 30, 2015
Skindred. I could end this review right there. While this Welsh powerhouse may share elements with other bands, there is only one Skindred. The mix of metal, hardcore, reggae, ska and hip hop reads like a nightmare, but sounds like a roar of freedom. For their sixth release, Volume, Skindred has tapped into all of the influences that make their music unique and vibrant, adding an in your face approach that will wake you up in a way that puts caffeine to shame. Pressing play on these songs is like injecting adrenaline and rebellion into your system.
This album wastes no time, opening with the nu-metal meets rap groove of “Under Attack.” Musically, the single note riffing brings to mind POD, while vocalist Benji Webbe spits out lyrics, alternately rapping and singing, often using a sound akin to HR of Bad Brains. The title track continues the high energy feel of the previous track, using chanting, turntables and ska style vocals inside an upbeat metal template. It’s these constant energetic performances that makes Volume an engrossing listen. One has to wonder if this is what Bad Brains would have sounded like had they formed twenty years later.
There are highlights galore on this release. “Shut Ya Mouth” opens with wha drenched guitar work and a reggae feel, but drummer Arya Goggin keeps this track in rock anthem territory, bringing it to a metal frenzy at the chorus. “Saying It Now” is deceptive, opening like a ballad, but turning into a full on rock monster within seconds. Musically flowing between tribal rhythms and straight ahead rock, this song dares the listener to walk away. Webbe’s passionate lyrics of loss and regret are sung over a fury of distorted guitars. Closing track “Three Words” is as close as Skindred comes to balladry, while still creating more a dubstep anthem with a killer metal chorus. Lyrically, this song is a battle cry, proclaiming the three words “life’s worth living.” The hardcore roots of “No Justice” bring a punk flavor to Volume.
Since their debut in 2002 I have been aware of Skindred, and even moderately impressed with them. Volume has converted me to a fan. From beginning to end, these songs are powerful, and it’s impossible to sit still while they are playing. The band has mastered the art of crafting songs, with sections that are as subtle as a whisper and as bold as a kick to the gut. Volume includes some of the most exciting songs I’ve heard in 2015. Skindred has release a battle cry, and others need step aside or be overwhelmed by the full charge rock they dish out on this release.
Reviewed by Jim 1340