Review Summary: Reggae Metal? It shouldn't work, but it does!
Here is yet antoher band that, until Sonisphere, had done little to interest me. After their short but sweet 30 minute set, they had immediately won me around. So, naturally, I was intrigued to endulge myself in more of their material. Having heard nothing but good things about this, their debut album, I decided to start at the beginning of their material and develop my love from there!
The first thing you get from their CD being placed in your player is that this a truly different listening experience. Somehow, Skindred mix the pounding aggression of metal and mix with the lyrical indulgences of reggae. Benji Webbe's lyrical prowess is well displayed on this album. Not only is he able to demonstrate his reggae perfect voice, but his roaring and rapid-fire vocals work just as well with the music. "Nobody" is not only an excellent album opener, but it pretty much sums up what Skindred are all about in one song. The songs sound both remarkably smiliar yet also different to anything you've heard before. That is no doubt down to Webbe's voice.
Songs such as "Bruises" and "Start First" are furthermore an example of the metal sensibilities Skindred have mixed so well with reggae stylings, whereas "We Want" and "The Fear" are much softer but seem to fit the album perfectly. With their softer sound, they are far removed from the plundering pace of the rest of the album but are a welcome respite from the sheer wall of sound the album produces. That said, these songs don't stray too far away from the Skindred sound and work impressively well with Webbe's vocals. "Pressure" is perhaps the go between for the bad. It has the rock sound, but is much more accessible to the mainstream than the other songs. Which is not to say the album itself is a hard listen. Every song is an infectious tune that is guaranteed to have the listener bouncing and pounding their fist to the rhythm.
The guitar work, although seemingly simple at first, is suitably stylised. Somehow, they demonstrate both metal stylings but a rhythmic chugging consistent with reggae music. The drumming is also suitably stylised in this way, which is no doubt what, mixed with Benji's natural reggae ability, make this album such a unique listen.
If you want a relatively short album, but one packed with energy and raw passion, then "Babylon" is the album for you. Whether it be the catchy yet gentle "We Want" or the relentless energy of "Bruises", there is something for all different listening styles here, yet at the same time it's an album that is hard to not love.
Perhaps the only bad thing about the album is that all the heavier songs follow a similar style. That is, they build up to a climax before unleashing the pounding riffs and heavy music. That said, the musical style is actually rather welcome and is certainly full of energy, which no doubt aids their action packed live show.
To be honest, it's rather hard to recommend work by other artists, as this sound is so different to anything else known to me
Ragga metal, the genre Skindred call their music, is something which shouldn't work. But it does.