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 411mania » Music » Album Reviews

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Skindred - Kill the Power Review
Posted by Daniel Wilcox on 02.07.2014





My 2014 Reviews:
Ed Harcourt - Time of Dust [8.0]
Warpaint - Warpaint [9.0]
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues [7.0]
Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Wanderlust [9.0]
Mogwai - Raves Tapes [4.0]
Young the Giant - Mind Over Matter [6.0]
You Me At Six - Cavalier Youth [5.5]
Gaslight Anthem - The B-Sides [6.5]
Of Mice and Men - Restoring Force [8.0]
Within Temptation - Hyrda [8.5]
Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long, See You Tomorrow [8.0]
The Rifles - None the Wiser [5.0]

Skindred is:
Benji Webbe – vocals
Daniel Pugsley – bass
Mikey Demus – guitar
Arya Goggin – drums



SkindredKill the Power


Track listing:
1. Killer the Power
2. Ruling Force
3. Playing with the Devil
4. Worlds on Fire
5. Ninja
6. The Kids are Right Now
7. We Live
8. Open Eyed [feat Jenna G]
9. Dollars and Dimes
10. Saturday
11. Proceed with Caution
12. More Fire
Running time: 48:35

Skindred burst onto the scene in 2002 with their debut record, and some would argue that had they emerged two or three years earlier, the band's success would have taken off due to the similarities between their sound and that of the nu metal genre that was inexplicably popular at the time. The likes of Korn, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit were having incredible successes at the time and Skindred undoubtedly possess the talents to take over that genre. Strictly speaking, Skindred isn't a nu metal band but they clearly taken elements from the sound and use it to make their own unique brand of what can only be described as reggae metal. If such a thing didn't exist prior to Skindred, it sure as hell does now. In fact the band takes elements of a plethora of genres in order to create their own sound and it's such a unique sound that the band has garnered a massive cult following over the past decade. On Kill the Power alone you have the obvious metal and reggae influences, as well as chunks of turn-of-the-century UK garage, hip hop, ska punk, pop punk, drum and bass, dub-step and more. To some, that's going to be a complete turn off. To the more open-minded, it's a complete mindfuck of music mayhem and it's highly addictive.

Opener and title track “Kill the Power” is a signature Skindred track for sure. It's driven on by racing drum beats and chugging metal riffs, with Ben Webbe's faux-Jamaican accent delivering the lyrical quips. In reality, he's from Newport, Wales. Quite the juxtaposition. The verses take on a decidedly drum and bass vibe before a pounding chorus takes over. This sort of stuff will sound right at home at a rave party or inducing mosh pits at Download festival this summer. “Ruling Force” sees the band have yet another go at “genre lucky dip” and they come out with garage. It's all a bit South London. The chorus again diverts to a more familiar Skindred sound even if what proceeds it is a bit Enter Shikari meets Chase and Status. “Playing With the Devil” makes use of dub-step drops and a more melancholy set of verses. Lyrically it's a bit more inventive than much else on the record with Webbe singing about “the devil dances in empty pockets” and the like. The chorus is an explosive one and makes you realise how easily these songs would connect in a live environment.

Inevitably there are metal purists that will turn their noses up at this record. Plenty of long-term Skindred fans ever will think the band has gone too far to the other side of the metal spectrum but there's a slew of tracks in the middle of the record that shows just how metal these guys truly are, “Worlds on Fire” is a straight-shooting metal orchestra of ferocious riffs and screamed choruses. There's the band's trademark reggae sound mixed in but the fans will have come to expect this. Lead single “Ninja” is punctuated with more metal riffage and will undoubtedly inspire many a circle pit around the globe this summer. Arguably the band's live reputation is the main contributing factor their rise in popularity, more-so than their unique sound. “The Kids Are Right Now” sounds like Korn's Jonathan Davis replaced Anthony Kiedis in fronting Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's got elements of funk and ska about it, and it's led by a repetitive drum beat from Goggin that actually drones on and on until you're sick of it by the end of the track. Interestingly the Jamaican accent seems to have been toned down somewhat on this one and it makes for a decent change of pace. The dub breakdown at the end of the track is worth listening to, and it leads into a more familiar nu metal guitar solo that ends before it ever really gets going.

“We Live” is a bizarre one – without meaning to upset anyone, it's almost bordering on power ballad. The track opens up with some power pop guitar chords and slows down into the verse and once again, the accent is stripped back as Webbe presents a more genuine vocal. It's Fall Out Boy's “Sugar We're Going Down” disguised as Soil's “Halo.” It's a jarring entry on this otherwise full-blooded and fast-paced freight train of a record and it's a definite mis-step. “Open Eyed” is certainly more like it, it's also a more straight-forward rock track, featuring guest vocals from Jenna G, who's powerful vocal creates one of the more memorable choruses from the record. It's also by far the most accessible track on Kill the Power and one that would likely get significant radio play if it was ever released as a single. “Dollars and Dimes” once again dives into the garage and drum and bass scenes but fails to have the impact of similar tracks on the record purely because it isn't as heavy. It comes and goes in four minutes and you forget the moment it finishes.

“Saturday” is another track that carries a definitive power pop influence. It also borrows strongly from the ska genre. It's the most upbeat track on the record for sure, conjuring up images of sunny days and harmless house parties. It's a little bit too Simple Plan for my liking, sounding like it's coming from a midday band on the Vans Warped Tour. Penultimate track “Proceed With Caution” is one that will likely appease fans, it's more straight up power metal with twisting riffs contorting around Webbe's well-delivered reggae vocal. Again, it's going to induce pits, it's a hell-raiser, fans will lap this up. Lyrically it offers a lot to be desired with screams of “pick up the place / mash up the place” and the like providing the core of the track's themes, but it's a power track no doubt. Album closer “More Fire” contradicts its title in that it's a much more chilled out track, that pays real homage to the reggae genre and invokes images of the Marley clan. This track isn't going to inspire any pits, but it does make you want to kick back on a recliner and light up another one of those questionable cigarettes. It's the perfect way to close the record and certainly leaves you feeling satisfied at Kill the Power's climax.



Skindred - “Kill the Power”


The 411: Somehow, some way, Skindred have managed to branch out even further with their fifth studio record by incorporating even more new sounds into their repertoire. Prior to the record's release, frontman Benjamin Webbe claimed this record was the band's most difficult to make and you can see why. So frequently the tracks go off on their own bizarre little tangents it must have been quite the creative struggle for all the members of the band to be happy with what they had put together. The influences are far and wide, the results are mostly good. There are a few minor mis-steps and occasionally the music is let down by sub-par lyrical matter but these are minor complaints regarding an otherwise totally enjoyable listen. At fifty minutes, Kill the Power is a record that might grate with metal purists, particularly if you're using this as your introduction to the band. But we're on album number five now, we should know what to expect from Skindred, and that is to expect the unexpected.
 
Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend





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