Keven's Music Review: SKINDRED – Union Black
Published: May 3, 2011 - 7:43am
Reggae metal band Skindred is a fresh breath of slightly stoned air in a world predominantly occupied by depressing hard rock. When Skindred comes on, you never really get that feeling of dread, because the music is so upbeat and freaking catchy you tend to forget that metal is able to sound that cheerful.
That's not to say that Skindred's newest album 'Union Black' is a cheerful one. It just sounds that way because of the reggae and trip hop elements that create a backdrop unlike any other band can in the heavy metal world. The lyrics don't reflect the upbeat choruses and catchy as hell hooks – at all. I also found it neat that Papa Roach vocalist Jacoby Shaddix cameo'd on the album's first single 'Warning'. That is one hell of a song and a great way to kick off the new record. It sets the tone for 'Union Black' appropriately.
Skindred don't get quite as heavy as they are capable of here. That's one of the things that bugged me personally as a fan who has followed them since the beginning. I like how they're trying new things by incorporating different sounds, but they end up losing the energy that drives their songs. 'Union Black' is the band's weakest record. Their last full album, 'Roots Rock Riot' was such a gem and loaded with amazing tunes that anything else coming after has almost too much to live up to.
Skindred have to be weary of venturing too far into left field, because although progressing their sound is vital to their longevity it ended up biting them in the ass this time. With 'Roots Rock Riot', the band managed to create a more distinct sound while still maintaining those heavy, catchy and delicious as hell songs. 'Union Black' has a few hits, but nothing here grabs me as much as Skindred's past work.
'Living a Lie' is a great example of incorporating just enough change to your sound while still crafting a memorable tune. Whereas a track like 'Guntalk' is maybe too much of a departure from what your fanbase is expecting. Skindred haven't had an issue striking that fine balance between their musical mashup of reggae and metal until 'Union Black.' That being said, it's still worth your time checking out, because even if it's Skindred's weakest offering, it's still better than most of the bland hard rock floating around today. Skindred may have come up short and slightly confused but that doesn't mean they still don't kick plenty of ass.
1."Union Black" (Intro)
2. "Warning" (featuring Jacoby Shaddix)
3. "Cut Dem"
4. "Doom Riff"
5. "Living a Lie"
7. "Own Ya"
8. "Make Your Mark"
9. "Get It Now"
10. "Bad Man Ah Bad Man"
11. "Death to All Spies"
12. "Game Over"