Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Skindred ~ Babylon

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: reggae-metal, rap-metal, hardcore, alt metal, British
Label: Lava Records
Year: 2002
Home: Wales

Members: Benji Webbe ~ vocals
Daniel Pugsley ~ bass
Mikey Demus, Jeff Rose ~ guitar
Dirty Arya ~ vocals/drums
Martyn Ford ~ drums

Additional: Howard Benson ~ keyboards


Can you dance to metal? I mean, not headbang but sort of really dance ... yes, you sometimes can, if you don't believe me then let me introduce you to Skindred. Though, it's less of a dance & more of a groove a la rasta, man. Skindred fuse reggae/rap & metal in a joyous marriage & here's your wedding invitation. The problem I've always had with reggae/rap-metal is the metal. Yes, I love my metal, but when I'm going to a non-traditional form it's because I want the non-traditional over the metal. Just rapping lyrics & having little in common with true south of the border reggae doesn't float my boat & I'm looking for something more than reggae as an accessory or a nice gimmick. But, I may have found my elusive fusion band. Skindred's debut Babylon brings together reggae & metal with all the authentic class of Bob Marley, even at times slipping into dub (i.e. "Start First", "Firing the Line"), with absolute vocal prowess & vibrant dancehall-like rhythms against screaming distorted metal guitars & thumping bass in an addicting fusion. For Skindred the reggae dominates in the way I like it & want to hear it, the songs being driven by the vocals not the guitars or a gimmick, & it's not until song nine (i.e. "Tears") that a more traditional sounding metal song first appears. Though sadly the traditional metal takes over for the last six songs making it feel like two albums, one hardcore reggae-metal & one commercially friendly & somewhat indistinct metal with big in your face choruses. So, to correct myself, for the first third of this album I've found my elusive reggae-metal band. I'm a big fan of songwriter/singer Matisyahu who originally fused reggae with Phish-inspired grooves with an ear bending deft skill at pushing reggae into a new territory. At times I hear early Matisyahu here. Actually, I could hear him singing in "World Domination" & taking it for his own with little effort. Sadly, I'm not much of a Matisyahu fan anymore, even though I've seen him three times in concerts & the first one is in my top five concerts ever. I stopped listening as the music lost the outside influences, went more dub influenced pop, more generic & became the last third of this album. Though, I have to say to Skindred's credit that the last third here is far from straight metal, but more like the band experimenting with different fusion styles such as dub & hip-hop, but none are given anything than an accessory gimmick role & the choruses are far too friendly after the onslaught of the earlier part of the album. Though, some metal fans will be put off by the more reggae part of the album & will probably before the last third. But, for the first two thirds this is for fans of Faith No More, Korn, 311, Living Colour, System Of A Down, Bad Brains & should not be ignored just because they may not have the commercial notoriety. While Skindred call themselves ragga metal & jokingly nu-reggae, for those curious.

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