1 December 2015

Skindred - Volume

So this is the final review from me for consideration for this year's album of the year.  It has been a long year and I do not think I have reviewed as many as last year.  But that is a thing for the blog, nothing to do with the latest album from Skindred.  Formed when Dub War split up, these guys are from Newport, Wales and have been going since 1998.  They are a band I have heard of more than heard if I am honest, I have been played a few tracks but not investigated on my own accord.  However with the release of sixth album from this mob, I finally have an excuse to do this.  I approach this album with a weary feeling, but I will get to this later.  For now, it is time to face the music.......

The first track of the album is called "Under Attack" and it has sirens wailing as the band sound as if they are warming up for the tune to come, it is an anti-war song which is just as easy to groove to as it is to appreciate the positive message which is coming from the speakers.  There are phases of reggae in this song that show that there is still a strong link with Benji's former band, but so what if there is?  If a song sounds this good, you really do not care as it is a great protest song that can make the body move as well as the mind.  We are then introduced to "Volume" which is the obvious title track to this album, it is a simple song about wanting to bring energy into the room and making everything jump and move.  It is nothing more than that, nothing less and it is a fun number that will be going well on their current tour and probably being played in nightclubs up and down the country.  "Hit the Ground" is the third track on this album and it is a mixture of a select few quieter moments that are contrasted nicely with some loud guitars that smash through those lighter parts.  It is not as immediate as the first two songs, but it is still a number that is making me smile.  It is a song that goes straight for the body to make it groove and it does succeeded at that.  "Shut Ya Mouth" follows on and the mood has a sense of despair to it and a wish that people would just reach out and connect with people.  Whilst I am not getting totally into this song, I appreciate the music itself and the younger me would have been into this so much - it is a proper clubbing tune and proof that music goes in circles.

"I" is the first of three interludes on it is over and done before you know it, which is what a good interlude should do.  "The Healing" is the next proper song on the album, it comes to out with a powerful riff and loud drums that bound off you with a great amount of force and the more I hear it, the more I am falling under its charm.  They certainly bring something different to the metal scene and this is a great example of what they are all about.  "Sound the Siren" is the next song, there is a huge piece of reggae in this song.  The riff spins around as Benji delivers a great vocal performance, the bass and the drums come together to become the main focus for the song.  At this point I would have expected to start checking out as I sometimes do with some metal these days, but with this song it is dragging me in further.  It is a great song once more from this band and it is making me eager for the rest of the album.  "Say It Now" is the next song on this album, it take the mood down slightly with a solemn set of lyrics about a regret of not saying those three words  that everyone wants to hear (no, it is not I Am Groot).  It is a good number that shows something different about the band and it works very well; I cannot say it is my favourite ever, but I do like the song.  Afterwards you have "II" and much like "I" it does its job admirably.

"Straight Jacket" follows on, it brings back that aggressive sound to their music and it also brings back the groove to this album that is one of the most important parts of this record.  It is all about the fragility of someone mental capacity and the damage that it can have when things go wrong.  It is a brilliant riff and chorus sections which make you want to dance and a set of lyrics that make you think deeper about situations people find themselves in.  Another tick in the win section of this album.  The final interlude "III" is next which sounds like a computer game going off and it worlds so well, best of the three; but I question the places of another interlude so close to the last one.  "No Justice" is the next song and it is a short, sharp kick to the body in the form a reggae explosion with a great dose of punk to the mix as well.  I am loving the fast pace of the song, the mixture of styles and the energy (something which goes through every song of this album).  It is a quick song that gives me a sly smile each time and the urge to start moving each time it is on.  The penultimate song is called "Stand Up" and it keeps up that good work going with this mosh pit in the form of song.  It does exactly what every other song on this album has done - makes you move, has some thought provoking lyrics and is a brilliant song.  It is such a simple riff that I cannot help but smile, it is just brilliant.  The last song is called "3 Words" and the mood is slower here to begin with, the heart break is there for all to see and then the metal comes up in the chorus.  It follows that pattern all the way through and it makes so much sense to end the album on this type of song, it is a great performance and brings the curtain down brilliantly.

I will admit I was a little sceptical at the beginning of this album, I have heard that they are better live than on record and it made me a little nerves before trying this record.  But I am glad to report that these fears were misplaced and the album is a corker.  The song are all played brilliantly and it appeals to both the older me and my younger self who sometimes cry inside that I like jazz now.  It has so many great songs that it was hard to actually choose my favourite number.  But there is a few things on here I would change; some of the ordering was off - the last three track should have been moved around and why have two of the interludes so close together?  But if your only problems are track ordering, that is easy sorted.  I really like this album, it is great on so many levels that I cannot help but be impressed.  For my last review for consideration for this year's album of the year - I think this is a great one.

8 out of ten - Oh now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - No Justice

You can purchase Volume from Amazon here

You can visit the Skindred website here (which also has a webstore)

You can follow the activities of Skindred on Facebook here

You can stream Volume on Deezer here

You can stream Volume on Spotify here

You can stream Volume on Tidal here

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