Continuing last week’s theme, I’d thought I’d review the new album from genre-bending monoliths Skindred. Kill The Power is their fifth full length effort and sees Benji Webbe and co. provide the expected mesh of reggae, hip-hop and metal, whilst building upon the success of its predecessor Union Black.
The most noticeable change to their sound is immediately apparent during opener and joint-lead single Kill The Power; an increased reliance on the electronic and hip-hop elements that have been more sporadic on previous outings. The opening track’s bridge section and verses are carried by backing singers and processed drum beats, whilst elsewhere on the album Playing With The Devil drips with dubstep heaviness (reminding of Korn’s Path Of Totality) and Ruling Force‘s verses take pages from grime, UK garage and to a lesser extent dancehall.
Although the electronic aspect is almost ever-present, Mikey Demus’s guitar trickery doesn’t take a back seat. His repertoire includes beautiful delayed arpeggios and stabs In We Live and Playing With The Devil, a gorgeous solo in The Kids Are Right Now and straight up riffery in Ninja.
Unfortunately the album isn’t flawless. We Live is decidedly underwhelming, its potential never really becoming realised and its lyrical nature coming off more as a parody of late 60s flower power. Like many of their previous efforts, Benji Webbe’s vocals vary from emotion-provoking brilliance to shallow ramblings which border on meaningless. Saturday comes close to being a sequel to Rebbecca Black’s infamous viral-single Friday, which is a real shame considering it plays after the vocally outstanding Dollars and Dimes, which is one of the many highlights Kill The Power has to offer, characterised by Demus’s leads which ooze with sensual overdrive.
These flaws aside, the album still has a lot to offer. Open Eyed is definitely single-potential, made brilliant through guest vocalist Jenny G’s contributions and along with Proceed With Caution and Worlds On Fire, it displays similarities to their third record Shark Bites and Dog Fights. More Fire takes Skindred back to their inherited reggae roots, but instead of sounding forced or fake, it plays like a relaxed band jam, concluding the album perfectly.
Kill The Power was always going to struggle to keep the momentum which Shark Bites and Union Black helped create, yet Skindred somehow managed to outdo the critically acclaimed predecessors. The key to their continued success lies in their ability to cut out what didn’t work and evolve the elements that were successful, producing a record that will become the industry standard for amalgamating multiple genres within a single song.
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