Review Summary: Ragga-punk-metal specialists' latest offering will make you want to dance, mosh and hug your neighbor.
Listening to Union Black
is the equivalent of welcoming the night with a forbidden lover; sprinting with entwined hands alongside the unfamiliar and unpredictable, shrouded by darkness, with destination unplanned. The evening may be unscripted, but there is bound to be entertainment.
, more specifically, is the free-spirited character running alongside that redefines traditional expectations. She’s the tatted up, edgy and headstrong young woman always willing to pump a fist or he’s the pierced, foul-mouthed and successful young man that lives life his own way. Regardless, pre-determined molds be damned as they have been thrown to the wayside here. British “ragga metal” specialists Skindred provide the soundtrack to this unsuspecting union, combining that ever so familiar heavy metal backdrop, but touch up with less encountered musical traits destined to provide the quite the night, despite how unconventional the one you share it with may be.
First things first, Union Black
knows how to party. “Warning,” featuring Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach fame, is just that – a warning of what’s to come. Take the grooving verses and the explosive chorus as a rousing invitation to the dance floor. “Cut Dem” breaks out the dubstep influences and melds those beats with an addictive, hard rocking chorus guaranteed to loosen up those limbs and crack whatever ice that may have remained. “Bad Man Ah Bad Man” is the point where all caution is thrown to the heavens, not to mention your arms as the dancing is sure to reach a climax. While all this groovin’ may be an admittedly happening time, Union Black
can toss the horns just as quickly.
As “Doom Riff” erupts during the pre-chorus, cracking with down-tuned guitars and gravely howls from front man Benji Webbe, Union Black
hits you: welcome to the mosh pit. Moments ago, bumping and grinding was the norm and now you’re getting acquainted with everyone’s punching form. “Own Ya” only pours fuel on this fist-flinging fire as the strings here hit harder than anywhere else on the record, while the screams from Webbe crack and flare up repeatedly, really bringing the heat. A thick bass line introduces “Get It Now” as Union Black
showcases their affinity for blending both the calmer, bouncier sounds of earlier with the rougher, edgier nature of the previously mentioned bruisers. Putting it kindly, chances are you did not expect such a dichotomy, but such is the life of Union Black
– existing within the moment, exploring both ends of the spectrum and having a blast in the process.
Even though Union Black
has all the initial charm and thirst for adventure that character can indicate, there is also a level of depth present that may surprise you. Within “Doom Riff” Webbe muses in his thick Caribbean accent, “It seems like the world just wants to fight forever/and they don’t want to live together.” Couple this with some lines in “Gun Talk” where Webbe spits “Gun time in the neighborhood/and the bad youth’s getting up to no good/want to be gangsters in our community/making life hard for you and me.” There is a social consciousness here that is commonly absent within the peers of Union Black
. There is an eagerness to live life fearlessly and passionately, though built upon the foundations of love rather than violence. Once again, Union Black
avoids the mold.
Hesitancy gets the best of you when tempted to fully, fully embrace Union Black
. Sure, there is a degree of difficulty to him or her simply based on the uniqueness they possess and quite frankly, sometimes their whole nature has the very real possibility of being too much to handle from time to time. Occasionally the moments shared are a little too long-winded. Some just never materialize. But then again, there is nothing similar to Union Black
. Going to the movies with another subject will always, always be an option. But embracing the night and sprinting into the darkness of possibility? Grab Union Black
’s hand – this will prove to be a night to remember.