Review Summary: Benji Webbe single handedly kills a project he made so good on the three albums that preceded it,
The idea of down tuned nu-metal riffing and more than a healthy sprinkling of reggae may sound inviting to some potential listener's to Skindred's fourth album Union Black, released in 2012, but they would be mislead. For what is really on display here is a mash-up of so many clashing style that the finished product feels rushed and semi-formed with barely enough content to account for half of its forty six minute running time. Add in the worst guest performance heard in the music industry of all time in the form of Jacoby Shaddix from the long since fallen from grace rock band Papa Roach, and this album can be summed up in just two words. Complete catastrophe.
Within the first minute of the first proper song on the album, Warning, you should have made up your mind whether this band is for you or not. The simplistic guitar work with exceedingly low tones forms a solid rhythm, and all appears to be going well until Benji Webbe opens his trap. It is clear right from the second he begins to utter words in a heavy Jamaican accent that this album is unlike anything heard before, and it is also clear exactly why this is. The entire concept of a solid enough metal backing with reggae vocals over the top of it is utterly absurd and could never have worked, not even on paper. The two styles just do not fit together, and this clash in styles is more than audible across this song, with Benji attempting to keep his flurry of Jamaican accented slang in time with a non-existent hip hop beat, sounding rather pathetic along the way. And just when it could not have gotten much worse, in comes the guest appearance from Jacoby Shaddix, singing in a Jamaican accent in an attempt to fit with Benji Webbe but in doing so kills off any credibility the song may have had. Clean singing may have worked with this track, but unfortunately we will never know as he attempts to keep a harsh Jamaican accent and mimic Benji Webbe with a little more melody to it, and it fails in every possible way.
Cut Dem, Doom Riff and Bad Man Ah Bad Man are all even worse than this song, with bland instrumental work and some of the most ridiculous vocal work to have existed. However, the one thing that really grates on the listener and becomes old extremely fast is the silly use of slang and abbreviated words needlessly across the entire record. Lines such as "A bare vexation ah run tru ma brain, yes im bex wid all o' dem again" really do not do anything to make this album any more tolerable, instead feeling like a parody of any decent form of lyrics. When it all comes down to it, that is all that this album is-a complete travesty of the metal world. What originality was found on their previous releases, which were interesting enough to listen to and fresh enough has now quickly gone stale, leading to one of the most nauseating experiences the music world has to offer.
The only salvation that this album may find is in that some of the instrumental work is not completely appalling. The introductory guitar work to Warning is passable on the merit that it at least creates a solid groove for the listener to get into, and the drums and guitar work to Get It Now are catchy enough and listenable, but still not enough to even scrape this album an average scoring. Take away Benji Webbe from the equation, and what is found is a simplistic but fun enough string of instrumentals. However, the vocalist of this band really is terrible and completely kills off any respectability the band had garnered from their previous works.