Review: Skindred – 'Volume'

WALES – land of leeks, rugby, dragons and… Skindred.
Yeah, the Welsh may still be licking their wounds after nearly beating Australia in the Rugby World Cup quarter finals, but at least the nation can raise a glass and get down to the new Skindred album release ‘Volume’… and, what a release it is.
Sure ‘Babylon’ and ‘Union Black’ were great albums, but this time around, Benji and the boys have reached a higher ground. The PR blurb says that we should “turn it up to 12” (as if 11 wasn’t enough), and in this case there is some justification.
Opener ‘Under Attack’ has the trademark Skindred light and shade, but the title track has a rollicking, rolling monstrous riff, and a chorus embedded so deep as to have you humming along on your first listen.
The band have never been as prolific as could have been hoped – formed in 1998, and ‘Volume’ is Skindred’s sixth studio album – but this has been worth the wait.
While the US wannabes all claim to be crossover they trail way behind in how many genres Skindred draw together in a melting pot to produce a molten morass of metal. ‘Hit the Ground’ for example opens with a ska/reggae feel, which Benji keeps throughout as the music mashes up off-beat rhythms and muted guitar, melding into riiffage of the most pleasant type.
Why does this melange of music culture work? Obviously the band are drawing on what they listen to when not invoking the ‘Newport Helicopter’; but equally, there is enough metal muscle to make sure that fans of dance and electronica aren’t going to touch them with the proverbial bargepole when Benji gets the pit into full flow.
Thus, apart from a few non-metal fans drawn by curiousity to see how dubstep and metal mix, the core Skindred audience are of the denim and leather brigade, or at least that’s what we used to wear, and, that is a shame, because on tracks such as ‘The Healing’ there are dance and dubstep elements sitting comfortably with the guitar, melody aplenty and again that wonderful sense of rhythm that Skindred deploy.
Equally, lyrically, Skindred are in touch with a vibe that resonates across all those who sit on the edge of societal norms, with ‘No Justice’ a prime example on this release.
On this release, Skindred have stretched their roots, added meat and veg to the sound, deployed the variety of influences that make up their DNA. ‘Stand Up’ perhaps sums this up best as it takes a mid-tempo twist to the sound with a contemporary metallic feel that simmers behind Benji’s invective.
Newport, stand up and be proud of Skindred!

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Review: Jonathan Traynor

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