Review Summary: You can run but you know you can’t hide, Skindred are killin it on album #5.
Ah, Skindred. Known worldwide for their fantastic live shows and unique mix of dancehall reggae, nu metal and various forms of electronic music, they’ve never really managed to get the same universal acclaim in the studio, which has always come as a massive shame as it’s quite clear that this has always been one of the key stumbling blocks that has prevented such a great band from reaching the heights that their live shows are deserving of. Now onto album #5 in their 16 year career, they’ve sought to try to capture what makes them such a great live entity and put that on record, and in most cases it’s fair to say they’ve more than succeeded.
Electronic influence is all the more present in this album. From the Cypress Hill-esque title track “Kill the Power” to the UK garage influences of “Ruling Force” and the atmosphere and dubstep drops in “Playing With The Devil” it’s clear that Skindred are branching out with their sound, and that’s just the opening three tracks. While there are still the standard Skindred ragga-metal moshers in heavier tracks like “Ninja” and “Open Eyed” (featuing additional vocals from one Jenna G) and more reggae lined tracks like “Worlds On Fire” and ska-driven “Saturday”, an overall more commercial sound is present on this album but that’s far from a bad thing, as the talent and essence of the band is still there, yet hooks are plentiful thanks to songwriting support from maestro Russ Ballard (best known for penning hits like “Since You Been Gone” and “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You”), particularly in the choruses.
In spite of this more commercial sound, the album also contains quite possibly the heaviest ‘Dred song yet in “Proceed With Caution”, which intitially kicks off a pure groove metal stomper making one wonder if they’re really listening to the same band that wrote the preceeding tracks “Dollars And Dimes” and “Saturday” until Benji starts singing and then all makes sense in the world again. The only weak patch in this album is towards the middle, where “The Kids Are Right Now”, “We Live” and “Dollars And Dimes” are rather poor compared to the rest of the album. While not particularly bad, they just fail to hold the listener’s attention nearly as much as the rest of the album does and they’re not nearly memorable enough. “The Kids Are Right Now” would be one of the stand out tracks on an album such as “Union Black” or “Shark Bites And Dog Fights” but can’t quite hold its own here.
Overall, though, this is by far Skindred’s most eclectic yet accessible release yet. If this is still continuing the trend of albums which pale in comparison to their live performances then one shudders to think at how amazing these tracks are going to sound live. From the lighter sounds of “More Fire” and “The Kids Are Right Now” to true moshers such as “Proceed With Caution” and “Ninja” there’s something for everyone on this album, and it’s definitely worth checking. With any luck this will be the album that finally gives Skindred the attention that they deserve.
Proceed With Caution
Playing With The Devil