Saturday, June 28, 2014

Skindred - Kill The Power

Skindred
Kill The Power
DoubleCross Records/Cooking Vinyl Limited

It’s been a long three years since Newport outfit Skindred last graced us with something new. And given how much I enjoyed 2011’s ‘Union Black’, I was really looking forward to seeing what the Welsh act had to offer on their latest effort ‘Kill The Power’.
Skindred (Who comprise of vocalist/keyboardist Benji Webbe, guitarist/backing vocalist Mikey Demus, bassist Daniel Pugsley and drummer Arya Goggin) have never been afraid to mixing things up from release to release. And true to form, the band’s fifth album is another step into new territory, while maintaining the band’s eclectic mish-mash of alternative metal, reggae rock, electronic rock and drum and bass. But while ‘Kill The Power’ is a solid Skindred album, I can’t help but feel that the band may be drifting into sonic territory that could potentially alienate some of their audience.
The opening title track ‘Kill The Power’ gets the album off a promising start, with the punchy track boasting the right amount of heavy riffs, bouncing reggae beats and a strong sing along chorus. In other words, it’s the kind of song that sums up the trademark Skindred sound in a single track in first class form.
But for all the promise the opener offered, the band stumble a little on the follow up track ‘Ruling Force’. The song isn’t terrible, but the band’s attempts to mix heavier passages alongside Prodigy like electronica sounds a little too forced and ill-fitting, which only comes across as confused. There’s a song in there somewhere, but it’s a little lost in the delivery.
The slower paced dubstep ‘Playing With The Devil’ doesn’t help matters much with its leaden vibe and lack of punch on the guitar front (Which is a shame because the lyrics on offer are some of the best on the album), but the album does eventually take a turn towards familiar terrain with the double punch of ‘Worlds On Fire’ and the heavy duty/Jamaican laced ‘Ninja’ (Which features a booming vocal introduction courtesy of Arthur Brown).
One track that really stood out for me is ‘The Kids Are Right Now’. Webbe tones down his accent quite a bit on this track, and when it’s coupled with a rather stripped back rock soundtrack and some dominant drums in the mix, it all comes across as a hit in the making. Perhaps on ‘Union Black’, this track would have worked quite well. But here, it sounds completely lost. It’s a rare case of the right song being placed on the wrong album.
Although solid enough, ‘We Live’ suffers the same fate as the former with its standard rock structures, power ballad-like tempo and repetitive choruses, and again comes across as another serious misstep. But as evident as it has been earlier in the album, the band strike back with a vengeance – this time with the guitar driven ‘Open Eyed’. Boasting a guest vocal appearance from former Un-Cut front woman Jenna G, ‘Open Eyed’ is classic Skindred, albeit with a greater melodic edge on the chorus front.
The reggae influenced ‘Dollars & Dimes’ and the acoustic based ‘More Fire’ are lightweight fillers apart from a bit of heavy guitars on the former, and are ultimately forgettable once their finished their run through. But once again, it’s the rocking ska-driven anthem ‘Saturday’ and the heavy blast of ‘Proceed With Caution’ that saves the tail end of the album from complete disaster.
‘Kill The Power’ isn’t a bad album, but it’s certainly one of Skindred’s weakest. The band’s willingness to push the boundaries is more than welcome, but when that push is towards mainstream pop/reggae/dubstep that’s lacking in inspiration, you just wish the band would stick to what they know and do best.
Skindred’s latest effort is a bit of a mixed bag, and if truth be told, a bit of a disappointment as a follow up to 2011’s rather impressive ‘Union Black’.

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© Justin Donnelly