Sound — 7
Skindred formed in 1998 in the aftermath of Benji Webbe's previous band, Dub War, imploding. Their first album, "Babylon," was released in 2002 and was immediately critically acclaimed for its originality. The band lineup has been stable since 2002, with the exception of the recent addition of Dan Sturgess who basically DJs for the band as they've added more electronica and dubstep elements into their sound. "Kill the Power" is the band's fifth studio album to be released, with 12 tracks and a total runtime of just a little under 50 minutes. The first single from the album, "Ninja," was released in September 2013 and was followed by the title track, "Kill The Power," as the second single in November 2013.
The album opens up with the title track, "Kill the Power," which mixes elements of metal and hip-hop, but with a weird little passage with some electronica and reggae stuff going on a little past halfway through the track. "Kill the Power" definitely got me nodding along to the music. "Ruling Force" is very heavily electronica influenced, but still with some heavy guitars and drums in the mix. "Playing With the Devil" is pretty much balanced between reggae and dubstep with some of the most interesting lyrics from the album, as well. "Worlds on Fire" has probably one of the catchiest choruses from the album. "Ninja" was the first single released from the album and makes a lot of use of reggae-tinged rap with Benji's Jamaican accent. "The Kids Are Right Now" is almost like a straight rock song, including a traditional guitar solo and minimal electronica elements. "We Live" is another track that is almost like a straight up rock song, but almost with a pop twist to it, which I can't really get behind. "Open Eyed" is up next and features Jenna G as a guest vocalist and this is another song that has a little bit of a pop perspective to it, but done much better than with "We Live" in my opinion. "Dollars and Dimes" has a much stronger reggae vibe than most of the tracks on the album, with a heavier chorus and some interesting lead guitar melodies going on. "Saturday" starts out like a standard hard rock song, but then melds into a modern reggae tune, and then kind of mixes the two ideas. "Proceed With Caution" is much more metal than the album has been since much earlier in the album, with chugging rhythms and fast little scalar runs. The album closes out with the track "More Fire" which opens up like a straight up classic reggae track with acoustic guitar and everything. It makes an interesting transition to end the album with.
Lyrics — 7
Benji Webbe is an interesting dude and Skindred has been an interesting project since its inception thanks to Benji. He definitely has some tricks up his sleeves with multiple types of vocal delivery such as rap, melodic singing and then more primal powerful metal vocals. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some from the track "Ninja": "Back in th time when the world was hot/ dem na go let no bad boy run dem spot/ agony and evil, it is here every day/ we ah gon make dem der dark force move out the way/ one day you're living and next day you're gone/ so who you gonna call fe come raise up a storm/ kick them dead wing chung to dem head/ the way dem ah gwan is like dem work for satan." I love the phonetic spelling of the Jamaican accent.
Overall Impression — 7
I don't believe this is the best work that Skindred has ever done, but it is definitely a solid album. My favorite tracks on the album are probably "Playing With the Devil," "Open Eyed," "Kill the Power" and "Proceed With Caution." I was also really feeling "More Fire" once my brain was able to change gears. I was hearing a lot more pop influence in some of the songs from this album than from any of Skindred's previous efforts, but with a band that seems to mix genres so effortlessly who am I to get upset about some pop hooks in their music? At the end of the day, this isn't their best album, but still a stolid release.