The fact that Skindred are an outspoken, abrasive and genre-challenging outfit is hardly a matter of subtlety. Over the course of a lengthy and milestone-stuffed career, they’ve transmuted their reggae-metal fusion from an enticing gimmick to a full-blown musical phenomenon, carving not so much a niche as their own signature imprint in today’s UK rock landscape. Perhaps one factor that has consistently plagued them on their otherwise triumphant upwards trajectory however, is that their records have never quite astounded in the sense their over-the-top, ballistic live shows have. With 2011’s Union Black being a widely hit-and-miss affair, it falls to their latest offering, the politically-charged Kill The Power, to attempt to bring the raucous force that makes the Skindred onstage such a vehement powerhouse.
Kill The Power erupts in a most destructive fashion, with the ferocious opening one-two of the album’s savage title track (which features an ingenious sample most will recognise from Kanye West’s bombastic ‘POWER’) and ‘Ruling Force’, an abrasive chug-a-thon that’s bolstered by sizeable portions of warped electronic madness not too dissimilar to The Prodigy. Wildcard frontman Benji Webbe’s distinctive reggae-influenced vocal tone is noticeably subdued in comparison to the band’s older material, however there’s compensation to be found in his strengthened melodic delivery, an improvement audibly showcased in the rip-roaring chorus hook of incendiary dub slow-burner ‘Playing With The Devil’.
Disappointingly, however, Skindred’s fifth sonic assault proves to be severely front-loaded, with the atrociously corny power-pop preachings of ‘We Live’ ushering in an array of confusing genre combinations that sacrifice musical quality for sheer shock factor. ‘Open Eyed’ haphazardly throws together bland house pianos with carbon copy Chase & Status vocal hooks, whilst ‘Saturday’ is a moog-infested pop-punk cut ridden with childish lyrical tropes that ultimately sour the listening experience beyond reparation.
It’s impossible to entirely discredit Kill The Power – for a glorious six songs the album makes an assertive gambit for pride of place as the crowning glory of Skindred’s commendable discography – it’s just a shame that they ironically decided to kill the power at its midpoint.