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Skindred - Shark Bites & Dog Fights [Album]

Skindred - Shark Bites & Dog Fights [Album]

Bieler Bros Records

Review 4244 Views
Last Edited by: Jack Stovin December 29th, 2009.

Ragga-metal.... what? Although Newport's Skindred would like us to think their sound borrows equally from the vastly disparate musical principals of reggae and metal, the truth is that I would barely have picked up the reggae influence if it wasn't for the accompanying press release (which really rams the point home) and the rather ill-fitting cover of Eddy Grants 'Electric Avenue.' Opener 'Stand For Something' sets the template for much of what is to follow, a glossy, bitter, riff laden stomper infused with subtle electronic elements which actually serve the bands sound well. The electronic elements aside though, there's nothing here musically to ruffle the feathers, at it's core what we have here is uninspired pop-metal with an almost negligible twist. Vocalist Benji Webbe is a powerful front-man with a commanding voice which flits comfortably between deep, metallic growling of Korn's Jonathan Davies and the pitched, melodic intimacy of Horace Andy. In fact Webbe is far and away the band's USP, a diverse and literate singer with bags of charisma, he carries the record.

What the band aspire to is admirable but they consistently fall short of the mark. If it wasn't for Webbe's unique vocal style and intelligent word-play: "If you don't stand for something you'll fall for anything," songs such as 'Calling All Stations' and 'Corrupted' could almost have come off a Lost Prophets record with their glossy hooks and dance-floor ready rhythms. I'd have no problem with this if the songs were in any way memorable but Skindred in 'pop' mode lack any conviction. It's obvious from the outset that this is a band for whom musical and political ideals hold great stock and it sounds here like they've given in.


The most irritating thing about 'Shark Bites' though is that there are shards of brilliance scattered throughout it's brief 30 minute duration which reveal a band who obviously have the potential to make good on their genre-bending promises. 'Who Are You' is stunning, it's like Massive Attack turned up to 11 and really brings focus to the bands vision, here the worlds of dub and metal collide in a melancholic landscape of harried, distant guitar and sharp, electronic textures. 'Days Like This' too manages to take the loose structural melodies of Incubus and lend them a trademark, babylonian swagger. This brief, mid-album high takes one final bad turn however with closer 'Invincible' which just tries far too hard, like Rage Against The Machine bled dry of venom. The riffs here are stock and tired and (as with much of the record) if it wasn't for Webbe's undeniable charms I'd have completely zoned out.

So on this evidence then Skindred are an unremarkable band with a remarkable front-man. What a waste!

Tracklisting:-

1. Stand For Something
2. You Can't Stop It
3. Electric Avenue
4. Calling All Stations
5. Corrupted
6. Who Are You?
7. Days Like These
8. Invincible



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