A place for everything and everything in its place. Thus goes the common saying that explains a lot of how we listen to and understand music. Sometimes, the skies are dark and raining and the right companion is crusty, black metal from the depths of pain. Sometimes, you’re driving long distances and doom sets the tone to the somber background around you. And, sometimes (maybe very rarely for us trve, frostbitten, Internet Metal Nerds) there comes the time to party. To throw down. To dance. When that time comes, metal offers a poor and limited selection: most bands on the lighter side of things are either intentional jokes or just very poorly produced and through out affairs.
But Skindred is neither of those things. They are veterans, wizened artists who have been around the block their share of times, seen all the riffs, played all the venues and partied with the best, and worst, of people. With Volume, they condense their hard-earned experience into a package so well produced, so cleverly arranged and thought out that, while you’re chair-dancing, headbanging or dashboard singing, it truly transcends the boundaries of “party metal”.
Long story short, get ready to throw down. Each and every track on the album shines a light on a different influence, a different beat and sensibility to the sweaty, thumping music that Skindred are known for. Nor is the pallete and range of these influences limited: “Shut Ya Mouth” for example, introduces rock n’ roll guitars, cowbell and an approach to beat that draws directly from the antics of the 90’s. “The Healing” continues along this line, hinting perhaps more towards pop-punk with its faster, electronics tinged singing and larger than life choruses. These rock influences are used to grant the music an edge, mixing with the basic reggae influences that have become the band’s calling card over the years. These pop-punk influences are turned up to 11 near the end of the album with “No Justice” and its choir-led chorus.
However, this album doesn’t lack in straight up bangers, drawing more on the stomp-core influences of Rage Against the Machine for example. Opener “Under the Attack” is classic Skindred, featuring a massive riff to set us off and the signature vocals on the verse to tie off the package, nice and tight. The title track which follows is perhaps the strongest on the entire release, displaying the unique combo of the band to its greatest effect: guitars, lighter electronics, party build-ups towards the big chorus, sumptuous bass, all blend together to the chorus itself which is a virus of hip-swaying and headbanging.
Cleverer bits are scattered throughout the album, dabbling in EDM and even dub, introducing that unique sub-niche of reggae into the mix. Somehow, even though all these different influences exist, “Saying It Now” is the most surprising and pleasing track on this album. It features clean vocals which can compete with the best rock and grunge out there and a more melancholic and somber mood on the guitars and drums. The fact that this track works, and works really well, is a testament to the lesson that this album is out to teach us: partying, having fun and making straight-forward, powerful music is nothing to make fun of. Especially moronic is viewing bands who make that type of music as inferior or not worthy of our attention. Skindred are a hall mark of the scene and at the end of the day, their product achieves what it set out to do with perfect production, little care for antics and an honesty that’s hard to resist. End of the day, it will make you dance, it will make you smile and it will make you move. A place for everything and everything in its place so crack a beer, invite some friends over and get banging.
Skinded – Volume gets…