Album Review: Skindred – “Big Tings”
I suppose there comes a point in most band’s careers when they start to lose their bite. People get older, priorities change, folks mellow with age, chaos becomes secondary to cold hard cash etc. Nevertheless, having just listened to this new album by one time dub metal firebrands Skindred, I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.
No, in fact make that very disappointed, because I remember just how incendiary this band could be back in the day. At their peak (some time around 2012’s Union Black), Skindred were very much the sound of major disorder kicking off inside your stereo, like some almighty brawl between The Ruts and Sepultura. I’m not sure what’s happened since then, but on Big Tings, it sounds as if this attack dog has been well and truly neutered.
The opening title track is… well, okay I guess but it’s the sound of a band taking its foot off the accelerator a bit, as if they’re phoning things in without really trying. Ah well, your reviewer thinks, maybe it’s just the build up before it all kicks in properly on track two. Oh boy was I wrong – That’s My Jam is a real stinker of a song, almost certainly the worst pile of garbage that Skindred have ever put their names to, it sounds like Limp Bizkit covering The Backstreet Boys’ Larger Than Life. Yup, seriously, that bad. Guys, what the hell has happened here?
The good news is there’s nothing quite that putrid on the rest of the album, but the almost total lack of effort on Big Tings really does leave a very sour taste, as if this band think that their fans are gullible enough to simply lap up any old slop they throw out. Machine is a Judas Priest-aping slice of riffage, but where Skindred once spewed fiery polemic, here they sound more like they’re just spouting hot air with the lyrics reading like Rock Cliches 101. Last Chance and Alive are similarly devoid of lyrical substance, but even worse are Tell Me and Saying It Now which sound like Skindred are aiming for the long-since bolted horse that is a slot on MTV Unplugged. Yikes.
There’s the odd song later on the album which at least shows how they got to where they are/were and just about saves this from being a complete disaster – Broken Glass and Loud And Clear at least have a bit of the aggro of old to power them along. But overall, Big Tings is the sound of a band where the flame of both anger and creativity has been brutally extinguished, to be replaced by the cold stale rattle of complacency and laziness. A real shame.
Just what on earth has happened to this once vital band? Gone are the rage and defiance to be replaced by a depressingly formulaic "will this do?" dub-metal-by-numbers album. Skindred give the impression here that they're either flat out of ideas, or simply can't be arsed trying anymore. Unless you want to feel like this band is taking the piss out of you, it's safe to say that Big Tings can safely be skipped.