REVIEWS ROUND UP: Black Mirrors, Lowlives, Wildways, Bruise, Arabrot, Lord

Nearly twenty years into this twenty first century of ours, and retro is once again the chicest tone in town. Fuzzed, bluesy guitars, seventies licks and threads, and an aching earnestness for a sound of yesteryear is where the coolest of cats are chilling. And down such alleyways we find Belgian quartet Black Mirrors and their impressive full length debut Look Into The Black Mirror (Napalm). Continue reading

Monster Magnet – Mindfucker

I don’t think we were ever able to put the finger on Monster Magnet’s sound. Since 1989 Dave Wyndorf (who’s 61 and still doing the damn thing) and his changing roster have dabbled in Stoner Rock, Psychedelia, and even some Sludge. So, what’s the recipe for studio album eleven, Mindfucker (Napalm)? The take here is straightforward Rock music. Continue reading

Myles Kennedy – Year Of The Tiger

Loss is one of life’s harshest realities that will affect everyone in some way, shape or form. Whether it is family, loved ones, close friends; death is the cruelest of inevitabilities in this most unforgiving of worlds. The grieving process is unique to all of us, in both how we deal with the emotional scarring and in how long recovery takes if indeed, it ever truly does or even begins at all. For some, it can be quick, whilst for others, it may be much longer before acceptance truly takes place. Continue reading

Satyricon – Deep Calleth Upon Deep

Twenty-four years since “Satyr” Wongraven and “Frost” Haraldstad came together in unholy musical matrimony, the core that makes up Satyricon have unveiled their ninth full-length album, Deep Calleth Upon Deep (Napalm). For the handful of uninitiated amongst thee, this was a band that initially set out refining folk-tinged Black Metal, before creating, defining and killing Urban Black Metal in one fell swoop (only Admiron Black – also Moonfog – by Gehenna came close) with the meisterstück and game-changing Rebel Extravaganza (Moonfog). Always one of the genre leaders, both in terms of quality and innovation, their boldness was rewarded with a profile turbo-boost courtesy of Pantera taking them out as main support. Continue reading

Russkaja – Kosmopoliturbo

As a semi-renowned gobshite par excellence, it’s genuinely not often I’m confused, but the levels of confusion upon first listening to Russkaja’s latest droppings Kosmopoliturbo (Napalm) caused existential crisis levels of befuddlement. Continue reading

John Garcia – The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues

When I spoke to former Kyuss frontman John Garcia in 2014, he said the follow-up to his debut solo record could easily be an album of covers. In truth, Garcia’s sophomore album, The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues (Napalm), is instead an extension of his ‘An Evening With’ unplugged tour; nine tracks of stripped back acoustic music, featuring re-imaginings of Kyuss classics and some new material.  Continue reading

Skindred – Volume

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If you’re already a member of the Newport Helicopter Crew, you’ll probably know all of this, but if you’re new to Skindred, then let me take a minute to give you some background.

Back in the mid-90s, popular music genres were much broader than they are today. Music labels were still confident in their ultimate power over distribution and exposure, and alternative bands had to have their own unique sound to stand out and grab the attention of A&R reps. In a dark, grimy, beer-soaked corner between metal, indie, dance & pop lived a group of bands that resisted all attempts at pigeon holing. Every band was an eclectic mix of influences and all were as different from each other as they were from the mainstream.

Alongside the likes of SenserPop Will Eat ItselfCollapsed LungJesus JonesNed’s Atomic Dustbin and Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine was a four-piece Welsh juggernaut called Dub War. Mixing metal, ragga and punk with dub and hip hop, the band put out two landmark albums via Earache Records before splitting up in 1999 due to disputes with the label, and from the ashes (well – Benji) of Dub War rose the mighty Skindred.

Featuring a more driven, heavier and ultimately far more successful sound, Skindred’s first album – Bablyon (Bieler Bros./Lava) – was a critical and (eventually) commercial success having featured on a myriad of charts (twice #1 on the Billboard reggae albums chart!) by its 3rd release. Whilst remaining similar in tone and content to Dub War, there was more subtle focus of guitar riffing in both the writing and the (clearly superior) production. The second album – Roots Rock Riot (Bieler Bros.) – signalled a move away from the old Dub War approach, establishing the distinct Skindred sound (which I shall call Skank Metal) in its own right and delivering the band squarely into the arms of the metal fraternity. From then through to 2011’s Union Black (BMG), fans have been treated to massive downtuned riffs, shoutalong breaks, roughneck vocals and sub bass drops as the band have motored through headline academy-level tours and 50k+ festival crowds. Last year’s Kill The Power (BMG) throttled back somewhat with a mellower and more varied sound.

Volume (Napalm) is Skindred’s sixth studio album, following hard on the heels of the last release (only one year between releases rather than the usual two or more), and seems in many ways to have come full circle. From the outset with ‘Under Attack’ there is a distinct and nostalgic return to the Dub War vibe. ‘Volume’ and ‘Hit The Ground’ are sublime fusions of old War and new ‘Dred. ‘Shut Ya Mouth’ is sure to be a moshpit favourite – it’s going to sound monstrous live – and ‘The Healing’ is a swaggering singalong with a euphoric chorus and some random sampling for an outro. ‘Sound the Siren’ has set-opener written all over it, ‘Saying It Now’ returns squarely to Dub War ‘Million Dollar Love’ territory, whilst ‘Straight Jacket’ is possibly the perfect song to show the uninitiated what Skindred is all about, ‘No Justice’ is a punky skankathon, ‘Stand Up’s Slash-esque rolling riff displays some classic rock chops and the show is closed with the near-ballad of ‘Three Words’.

In an age of bands that sometime seem shameless in their adherence to the confines of their parent (sub)genres, Skindred are an inspiration. There’s still no-one sounding remotely like them. Long may they continue.

 

8.0/10

 

PHILIP PAGE