I discovered Skindred when they were supporting Rob Zombie with Revoker (whose first album Benji Webbe has produced. Can't wait) and think they are one of the most innovative bands of recent times. They take multiple genres and fit them together neatly. Union Black is no exception; in fact, it goes further than previous albums and incorporates dance into the mix.
The album has relevant messages to emote, and lyrically it is brilliant, but let's move past that and focus on the overall sound of each song.
"Union Black" is an electronic subverted British national anthem. A great intro.
As this ends we are thrown into the starkly contrasting atmosphere of "Warning". The opening riff carries so much energy, and Webbe's voice sounds fantastic. The song gives "Nobody" some serious competition. Jacoby Shaddix's input only strengthens the melody. It's also a blast to hear live.
"Cut Dem" - a perfect example of how Skindred incorporate electronic sounds into their music. They have mastered it, and made it work wonderfully. I'm hooked.
"Doom Riff" is the most catchy song I have heard in ages. It's one of the heaviest, but also one of the most melodic. This will be essential on the set list.
"Living A Lie" - This is where it gets interesting. It opens with an electronic sound, and then breaks into raw metal. It even has rap, and it works. The aggression comes across very strongly, and the melody breaks the song up. Fantastic. One of my favorites.
"Guntalk" is pure reggae. Despite the disturbing veracity of the lyrics, it's a relaxing song. I've never heard anything like it. The slow reggae rhythm changes to an upbeat dance rhythm, and you realise what a unique track this is.
"Own You" is the heaviest track on the album. It's also the most straightforward. I honestly don't have much to say about it. It's pretty good, but not one of the best.
"Make Your Mark" - this is very upbeat and positive, in contrast to "Own You"'s dark concept. The chorus forces you to headbang. It proves Webbe's vocal skills hands down. The range of genres this song crosses is uncountable.
"Get it Now" - This is probably the weakest track, but that doesn't mean it's bad. It's great. It's a lot calmer, is structured well, and has some interesting moments. It's also about 30 seconds too long. The chorus regurgitates softly at the end, but I don't see any reason for it. It would have been more concise without this segment.
"Bad Man Ah Bad Man" - A song about playing live, and the energy a show encompasses. This energy is reflected through the chorus. Demus' guitar packs one hell of a punch, and Webbe creates melody with clean vocals. Another highlight of the album.
"Death to All Spies" - The opening riff is addictive, then the verses tone it down, and finally it crescendo's into the slick chorus, and then the pattern begins again. Catchy, addictive, the perfect balance of heaviness, melody, and electronic music. Superb!
"Game Over" - How better to end a great album but with a track with the aspects which make "Cut Dem" and "Doom Riff" so enslaving! A snappy and punchy song. The sudden ending only gets me ready to scroll back to track 1 and listen to it all over again.
There you go. To summarise, this is the most experimental album I have heard in the last ten years. Fans will not be disappointed. It is very different to previous Skindred albums, but it retains their classic traits. Don't miss out.
Bad Man Ah Bad Man
By the way, this is not just an initial reaction. I've been listening to the album all day. I'm hooked. It's like cocaine in my iPod