Skindred need no introduction we are sure; a band rising from the ashes of the also one of a kind Dub War in 1998 and proceeding to enslave ever since the imagination of initially the UK metal scene before expanding into broader territories with their unique sound, ferociously compelling releases, and a live presence second to none. We make no apologies for declaring the band as one of our all-time favourite passions since those early days of both of vocalist Benji Webbe’s bands or for over enthusing over Skindred’s massive new release Volume. Admittedly it is hard to say that this sixth full-length from the band is their best album to date, an already invested lust for their sound and previous releases preventing that full declaration, at least just yet, but Volume is without doubt the most concentrated tempest of Skindred blockbusters so far. Stocked with creative bitch slaps perpetually building to momentous choruses and tidal waves of voracious sound, it is simply one gloriously riotous and anthemic beast.
The album at times seems like it is inspired by and drawing on essences of past albums, whilst tenaciously forging its own identity within the sculpting of fresh mountains of inventive noise. Volume is no slave to nostalgia though, except the kind which always comes with a sound truly distinctive to one protagonist, but it does spark the fierce kind of excitement first found in the creative claws of Babylon and later the likes of Roots Rock Riot and Union Black. The fact is for fans every release has got us hot under the collar, even, for personal tastes, the less potent Shark Bites and Dog Fights having truly irresistible moments, but the Skindred fusion of metal, rock, reggae, and electronica has been honed into its most inimitable and ferocious shape yet for Volume. Certain plateaus at certain times have been breached by the band over the years, and by drawing on all their years of creativity and aligning it to new experiments of imagination Skindred has hit their newest with Volume.
The successor to last year’s Kill The Power, the album opens up with Under Attack, a song instantly smelling of Skindred from its warning tones and Webbe’s vocal prowess alone. In no time song and sound is into a recognisable swagger and intimidating prowl, riffs and rhythms a battlefront of contagion and muscle led by the expectantly gripping vocals. Just as you think you have a hold on it though, the track slips into an atmospheric croon and seventies funk twisting, returning to its tenacious canter for a dynamic and fiery finale.
It is a great start but just a teaser of bigger and bolder things to come, starting with the album’s title track. A flirtatious start sparks the predacious tone of Dan Pugsley’s bass and the scything strikes of guitar from Mikey Demus, they leading the song in a slightly schizophrenic shuffle as warm and melodically alluring as it is at times grouchy and emotionally rabid. With the skills of Dan Sturgess conjuring, twisting, and distorting throughout as the rapier swings of Arya Goggin ebb and flow in viciousness, the track is a fire of intensity and enterprise with a (Hed) P.E. like spicing especially tasty.
Hit The Ground is another fiercely animated flirtation straight after, rhythms a cantankerous dance as throaty bass and spicy guitar endeavour get entwined by the prowess of electronic suggestiveness within the thick air of the Skindred trademarked song. A roar to wither the senses and incite a rebellion, energies are aflame by the song’s end but given no time to regroup as from an enticing lure of drums, Shut Ya Mouth has feet and imagination leaping around like a puppet. Talking about Volume, Webbe said the band wanted to emulate their renowned live sound more than ever in the release, and for sure Shut Ya Mouth epitomises that success especially when almost physically feeling the vocalist’s ire and confrontation alone in face and ears. Musically the track also has a hint of fellow UK band Anti-Clone to it, who we know has also supported Skindred live, inspiration going both ways maybe?
The scent of Southern rock spices up guitars upon The Healing next whilst vocally and rhythmically it swiftly turns a ska flavouring into an incitement of heavy rock ‘n’ roll. Biased we maybe, but it is hard to offer many frontmen up as rich and explosive in presence and tone as Webbe in full roar, and not for the first or last time upon Volume, he whips up air and energy with ease, unsurprisingly repeating the feat with Sound the Siren. As beats go on an addictive dance, guitars tunnel into the psyche with their nagging groove whilst the bass just oozes dark hues as the vocals romp and stroll anthemically through ears. The track is superb, a kaleidoscope of sound and ideation as unpredictable as it is virulently incendiary; Skindred laying down another template to inspire others.
A calm of sorts as Saying It Now emerges, allows a breath or two to be swallowed but soon Goggin is back working a web of infectious and dramatic rhythms as a sonic ambience aligns to the mellow delivery of Webbe. Each passing minute sees Pugsley’s craft get more predatory and skirting grooves become sharper as the track’s intensity simultaneously escalates, it all subsequently erupting in a furnace of energy and passion posing as the chorus.
The body is soon flung around as Straight Jacket breaks out its agitated contagion next, another slightly deranged imagination gripping verse and listener, building to a colossal chorus which is simply anthem from head to toe. It is that fierce and volatile temptation around it though that turns ardour lustful, that and the ingenious evolution of its mania.
No Justice strides commandingly in on a chorus of band roars, ska seeded hooks and poppy riffs emerging from that great stormy entrance to help the track into a buoyant canter with eruptions of searing sonic flames and vocal rapacity. Becoming punkier with each burst of verbal defiance and rebel rousing creative outburst, greed for more escalates before it steps aside for the just as irresistible Stand Up. Loaded to the gills with sinew lined grooves and swordsmen like rhythms jabbing and swinging with zeal, the track equally growls and bellows with bestial and invitingly defiant prowess.
Completed by the reflective fire and sonic tapestry of Three Words, again the band at their emotive best, Volume is a maelstrom of Skindred invention and power. It is a heavyweight confrontation in a year of big successes; a creative ‘bullying’ that just gets the ears throbbing, body aching, and passions roaring.
Volume is out October 30th via Napalm Records.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
04.11.15 UK – Southampton / Guildhall
05.11.15 UK – Norwich / UEA
06.11.15 UK – Nottingham / Rock City
07.11.15 UK – Manchester / Academy
08.11.15 UK – Newcastle / Academy
10.11.15 UK – Glasgow / ABC
11.11.15 UK – Leeds / Stylus
12.11.15 UK – Bristol / Academy
13.11.15 UK – Birmingham / Institute
14.11.15 UK – London / Brixton Academy
15.11.15 FR – Paris / Glazart
16.11.15 NL – Tilburg / 013
18.11.15 DE – Cologne / Stollwerck
19.11.15 DE – Munich / Backstage Halle
20.11.15 IT – Novara / Rock N’ Roll Arena
21.11.15 IT – Scandiano / Corallo Rock Club
22.11.15 CH – Lyss / Kufa
23.11.15 CH – Zurich / Dynamo
25.11.15 AT – Graz / PPC
26.11.15 AT – Vienna / Arena
28.11.15 HU – Budapest / Akvarium
30.11.15 DE – Hamburg / Markthalle
02.12.15 SE – Stockholm / Debaser Medis
03.12.15 DK – Copenhagen / Pumpehuset
04.12.15 DE – Berlin / Postbahnhof
Pete Ringmaster 29/10/2015
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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As much as music delights, surprises and fuels our lives it can frustrate just as it has with metalers Kontrust. Frustrate in the fact they have somehow managed to evade our attention here until now. Deeply eclectic, wonderfully eccentric, and extremely brilliant, the Austrian sextet unveils their new album Second Hand Wonderland to set the predominately lacklustre world of rock music on a collision course with inspired ingenuity. The album is amazingly impressive, perfectly unpredictable, and most of all complete fun.
Kontrust are classed as a crossover band though that term can be applied to the majority of bands these days, the new breed openly taking influences and missing multiple genres in to their sounds. Kontrust just do it better and from the widest palette available to create sounds that light up every thought, sense and part of the body. They are an infection there is no cure for, a contagion that one only wants to be consumed by. So how can we describe them for others still not aware? For this album take a healthy chunk of Skindred/Dub War and boil it up with chunks of Djerv, spices of Rammstein, Mike Patton, and Guano Apes and then pipe some Yello, 12 Stone Toddler and Shaggy through it and you are on the right recipe at least.
Second Hand Wonderland is the follow up to the previous acclaimed 2009 album Time To Tango which gave the two singles The Smash Song and the Dutch chart hitting Bomba. In between that and this third release (their debut album Welcome Home coming in 2006) the band received an Amadeus Austrian Music Award in the Hard & Heavy category as well as playing numerous shows and events including the Przystanek Woodstock festival in front of a reported 300,000. Now with the new album one can only see and hope that they hit the largest and widest attention, music needs the likes of Kontrust, the world needs them.
From the moment the album opens and charms it flies like a wild exhilarating wind across the senses, the songs though not particularly brief simply breeze past with the most open of pleasure and fun. They say time flies when one is enjoying oneself and Second Hand Wonderland is the strongest proof. Led by the brilliant dual and contrasting vocals of Stefan and Agata who is Polish, the songs sizzle and stomp with each and every note. With music that rages and bruises through to hypnotising and serenading to sirenesque effect and brought by the rest of the band in guitarist Robert, bassist Gregor, drummer Roman, and percussionist Manuel, the album is a sonic festival that wraps its manic arms around the body whilst drizzling mouth watering invention and bedlam into every pore.
The first single from the album Sock ‘n’ Doll opens the unforgettable experience with initial vocal melodies from Agata before Stefan brings his best Benji Webbe impression. Within a few eager breaths the track erupts with a deep predatory bass and crushing riffs led forth by thumping rhythms. From a Skindred/Djerv rampage the song suddenly steps aside into a beautiful melodic pop moment from the stunning voice of Agata backed with crystalline melodies. Glittering electro sounds then sweep over with an industrial nip to them and in a little over a minute we have been turned inside out magnificently. The song ripples and pulsates to its end continuing the interchanges and already the incisive hooks of the band are in and attached deeply especially from the explosive metal/ska lead into the climactic end.
Every song could be mentioned in immense detail but to save a review running into pages let us just say each and every song is as inspiring and majestic as they are wonderfully crafted and delivered. The likes of Falling with an metallic Animal Alpha like infusion, the De Staat toned electro pop addiction that is Monkey Boy, and the energised rap/melodic grooved U Say What simply leave one grinning from ear to ear whilst the magic engages fully. If you have not begun joining in by the fourth song a check of the pulse is needed.
The peaks of what is a constant elevated high include the songs The Butterfly Effect, Bad Betrayer, Raise Me Up…… ok basically everything. The Butterfly Effect is a definite highlight and a song that Bow Wow Wow might be making if the band was starting out now, its tribal instinctive rhythms and flow awash with warm and gracefully beckoning vocals from Agata. The wicked sinister stomp of Rasputin and the punk thrusting Adrenaline showing Agata can be as harsh vocally as stunning, not to forget the aggressive maelstrom of intensity Hey DJ! leave one just as desperate to dive back into their depths as those songs mentioned and those left for your investigation.
Second Hand Wonderland released on Napalm Records (yes a surprise here too but they know great music) is easily one of if not the best album heard so far this year. It is magnificence at its most impressive and sets up Kontrust to be your new favourite band.