Skindred - Union Black
It’s hard to believe that it has been close to thirteen years since Skindred formed from the ashes of the much loved Dub War. Re-recording albums and spending lengthy periods in the States meant that the band had all but disappeared in the eyes of fans back home, but Union Black is set to change all that. Recorded entirely in the UK, this album sees the band improving on every facet of their sound and producing possibly the album of their career.
A frustrating point with Skindred has always been whether their records would ever match up to the excitement of their now renowned live show, but the band blow those doubts clean away with opening track ‘Warning’. Taking the same stomping template of fan-favourite ‘Nobody’, its grooving riffs, guest appearance by Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix and a chorus that was made for headbanging show the bands knack for writing tracks that translate effortlessly to the stage. In fact much of the first half of the album is made up of the type of songs that will surely become highlights in their live set. Whether it’s the bass-laden, dubstep tinged ‘Cut Dem’ or the bouncy and melodic ‘Doomriff’, they all come across as being made for the live arena.
The ‘ragga-metal’ tag that Skindred earned on their formation shines through on this album too, particularly on the summery reggae of ‘Guntalk’ with its loose drumming and electro-tinged melodies. It’s quite a departure but in no way seems out of place, mainly down to frontman Benji Webbe’s versatility as a vocalist, and he remains the the star of the show. From the soaring chorus of ‘Make Your Mark’ to his snarling turn on the brilliantly heavy ‘Own You’, it’s this man that gives the band its character. Union Black is the sound of a band returning to its roots and looking ahead at the same time. Judging by this album, the future is mighty bright for Skindred.