South Wales’ Skindred have been a steadily successful band in the UK and internationally for almost twenty years now. Their combination of classic, old school rock and roll with elements of reggae, rap, and other genres created their own unique ‘ragga metal’ style, which has drawn in many admirers. Their seventh full-length LP, ‘Big Tings’, sticks in with their ethos of delivering a whole host of genres, whilst also incorporating some newer sounds.
The titular-track opens up the album, with a big, drooping fuzz-filled guitar riff coating a stomping rhythm and a pleasant amount of cowbell. Its sing-along chorus and heavy melody makes this feel like a good opening to the record. We then go straight into ‘That’s My Jam’, which includes a chorus of cheerleaders chanting the song’s title. Again, there’s a chunky fizzling guitar that occupies the main body of the verses, yet the highlight of this track is easily when frontman Benji Webbe goes full-on with his free flowing reggae-rap vocals in the bridge.
‘Machine’ is straight out of the AC/DC book of choruses, which makes sense considering their now ex-vocalist Brian Johnson was originally tipped to be its guest feature, but then Reef‘s own Gary Stringer made the final cut. Webbe‘s wide-ranging vocals are on show and taken straight from the world of glam metal as he bursts “Turn the ignition / Start the machine”. It’s a definite tip of the hat to the band’s classic rock influences.
The blend of styles is something that Skindred love to delve into, as demonstrated on ‘Loud And Clear’, which sees Webbe go back to his groove-grinding reggae-rap vocals. This style-shifting is even more evident on ‘Alive’, as the record takes on a drum and bass/reggae feel, with surprisingly less guitars than we’ve heard on the album so far. It’s a new step, but does feel a bit out of place with the rocky feel of the record overall.
Hearts are tugged on the LP’s concluder, ‘Saying It Now’. Originally featured a full-band track on ‘Volume’, serves up as a slow, somber acoustic rock ballad to ease us out. The focus is solely on Webbe‘s sincere delivery, as he pours his soul out in spectacular fashion in a song that encapsulates the Skindred mentality. We only live once, and no-one knows when we’ll go. Do and say what you want to do now before it’s too late, and enjoy life with those who matter whilst you can.
‘Big Tings’ is yet another consistent release from a band who have been dealing the goods out since 1998. There’s a bit more emphasis on the catchiness of what’s being offered this time around, but the chunky riffs and dynamically explored vocals are definitely still there. And despite the mash of genres and styles, this is one hundred percent still a Skindred album.