Welsh Reggae Metal quartet should follow the advice of their seventh album title track and “Keep Turning It Up”.
I first saw Skindred support Soulfly at The Glasgow Garage back in 2006. I was working with the MAD crew that night, so was stood at the front of the stage during their set. I watched in awe as frontman Benji Webb engaged the crowd with the prowess (and wit!) of a professional comedian. Skindred’s music also kicked an extreme amount of ass, instantly winning me over as a fan.
It’s Skindred’s live performances which truly, truly define them. Even if you’re not necessarily a fan of their music, I would implore any metal fan, young or old to see them live at least once.
Their latest album offering titled Volume is somewhat aptly named given the varying decibel levels contained within. Opening track “Under Attack” makes full use of Dan Sturgess’s electronic synth genius and you can’t help but hear the elements of “Warning” from the bands Union Black album, which is almost always the closing song of a Skindred gig (accompanied by the infamous “Newport Helicopter” a sight which has to be seen to be believed). Keeping the opening energy flowing is title track “Volume” an easy contender for best song on the album. It contains a simmering breakdown in the middle which I can easily imagine Benji using to full effect, creating moshpit mayhem on the band’s upcoming UK Tour.
“‘The Healing” gives riff wizard Mikeydemus a real chance to shine, the more I listened to this song, the stronger the urge to dust off the old air guitar became. For the wannabe string professors among Skindred’s fanbase, fear not there are plenty of opportunities on the album for you to become inspired. “Sound The Siren” will most likely make you headbang like crazy but if your Fender fingers become itchy, be patient as power ballad “Saying It Now” follows immediately afterwards, with the right amount of imagination (and caffeine!) you should be placed centre stage on that wonderful floating venue in the sky whilst your legions of fans serenade the killer chorus back to you.
If you’ve ever pondered “Am I actually crazy?” then the lyrics of “Straight Jacket” may ring some bells for you, pun intended. If not, it certainly showcases Benji’s tremendous talent for fast paced reggae verses, this statement is of course more applicable to first time listeners. Long term fans of the band will already be well versed with their rasta roots.
Paying tribute to anti-establishment punk music of the Sex Pistols era is “No Justice”. I should add the track is not an out and out copycat of Sid Vicious’s brand of revolt inspiring works. As you would expect Skindred add their own unique flavour to it. Will I get libeled for copyright infringement if I say that flavour is Reggae Reggae sauce?
Perplexed is the word I’d use to describe “Stand Up” as it just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the album. It almost comes across as an attempt be more “mainstream” and ends up sounding like a more amped up Maroon 5.
If Skindred wanted to end the album on a high note then they have succeeded in the form of “Three Words”. Whilst it may not be as explosive of a finale as hardcore fans were wanting or expecting, I personally found the heartfelt sentiment at the core of the song to be deeply uplifting. The three words the song refers to are “Life’s Worth Living”. Any piece of music that promotes a big message of positivity in the world we live in now is a big winner in my book.
To summarise, Volume may not be Skindred’s finest album, I’m a much bigger fan of the more aggressive material that was on their debut album release Babylon. That said, I have no doubts that performed live, the songs from the new album will go down a treat with fans old and new, when injected with the kind of random craziness that you’ll only ever see at the Skindred show. Because of this I shall give Volume a respectable rating of 7/10.
Volume is out through Napalm Records on October 30th