April 23, 2018 Skindred – Big Tings (Album Review)
Big things are guaranteed to come your way thanks to the Welshmen of Skindred, pioneers of the Ragga Rock sound who return on Friday, April 27, 2018, with, well, Big Tings, thanks to Napalm Records.
Formed in 1998 in Newport, Wales, Skindred are pioneers at what they call Ragga Rock, an amalgamation of Metal, Reggae, Punk, Rock and beyond. Their debut, 2002’s Babylon, would help to build an impressive name for the band, leading to five more albums over the next thirteen lucky years, ranging from 2007’s Roots Rock Riot to 2015’s Volume. Throughout their impressive and lengthy career, these Welsh lads have shared stages with the truly eclectic likes of Nonpoint, Sevendust, Breaking Benjamin, Korn, Reel Big Fish, HIM, Papa Roach, Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly, Disturbed, Rob Zombie, Hollywood Undead, Steel Panther and many, many more. To add to the mayhem, Skindred are currently on the road with CKY.
Very much an international sensation, Skindred have toured extensively across the globe, appearing on a multitude of international festivals including Warped Tour, Rock on the Range, Download Festival, Reading and Leeds Festival, Sonisphere, Australia’s Soundwave, Japan’s Summer Sonic, Graspop Metal Meeting, France’s Hellfest, Ozzfest UK, Woodstock Poland, Germany’s With Full Force Festival, Wacken Open Air, South By Southwest, Belgium’s Pukkelpop, and many, many more. So, what’s left for these sonic pioneers?
With their seventh album ready to drop, Skindred – Vocalist Benji Webbe, Guitarist Mikey Demus, Bassist Daniel Pugsley, and Drummer Arya Goggin – are preparing for, ahem, Big Tings. The 10-track collection runs the gamut across genres, which is exactly what fans expect from these genre-bending Welshmen. For those that enjoy a good piece of music trivia, take note: Big Tings was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios in Wiltshire, England.
Big Tings kicks off to its namesake track, a funky stomp of massive proportions. Following it up, they dip it low with the fat end slam of “That’s My Jam,” fraught with cheerleader chants and some wailing sirens. Webbe goes vocally postal on the take-no-prisoners attack of the Glam-meets-Grunge “Machine,” which features vocals by Gary Stringer of Reef and guitars by Phil Campbell of Motörhead. The track was so beloved by AC/DC Vocalist Brian Johnson that he actually nabbed it as an intro and outro theme to his TV show, Cars That Rock.
The cheerleader chants continue on the sludgy “Last Chance” where there is a Silence of the Lambs name-check during the track’s Rap breakdown. Next, “Tell Me” begins as an almost-ballad with a gentle island breeze in its sonics and atmospherics before switching into a gentle Rocker, then quickly recycling back to the islands to admonish that devil in high heels. The end result is a quasi-power-ballad that shows Skindred experimenting and dipping their toes into something beyond funktastic Rock-n-Roll.
The cheerleaders return to shake their pom poms to noise rocker “Loud and Clear” before Skindred tackle all those yummy feelings that make us feel, on the celebratory rocker “Alive.” They ramp it back up for the explosive bass-a-thon that is “All This Time,” then move into the funktastic-ness of “Broken Glass.” There is an intensity here, a totally delicious Rock-dance that culminates and quite possibly the best track of the collection. In closing, Skindred end with the emotional ballad “Saying It Now,” a delayed “I love you” that begins with an acoustic guitar and builds into strings, all with the spotlight placed on Webbe’s soaring vocals.
Skindred are certainly good at what they do, and they cross genres fluidly throughout Big Tings. There is experimentation within the frame of each song and, while it does not always pay off, you have to give the quartet credit for never playing it entirely safe. Thus, Big Tings is big: it is a massive sound, a bold statement from these seasoned musical veterans. It rocks and rolls, bangs its head, and proves that sometimes good things can come in a ten-track package. For these reasons, CrypticRock give Skindred’s Big Tings 4 of 5 stars.