Skindred - Babylon
Record Label: Lava Records
Release Date: December 28, 2004
Within the first fifteen seconds of listening to this CD, it is obvious that Skindred is going all out for their debut album, Babylon. As soon as the introduction begins, lead vocalist Benji Webbe begins babbling stupidly over a hip hop/reggae beat. I don't know what kind of message the band was trying to send with the track, but it sure left me wondering, "Who the hell agreed to produce this?"
I will say right now, my first impression of the album was completely incorrect, because, honestly, this is one of the most fun and energetic albums I've listened to for a long time. Skindred brings to the table a unique mix of metal, punk, reggae and hip hop, and they do it all with liveliness and power. The lead single, "Nobody" is the epitome of a Skindred rocker, full of rapped verses, a simple but powerful guitar part, and a big, booming chorus. It sets the tone for the rest of the album.
Babylon contains more hard rockers ("Bruises," "World Domination"), explores the hip hop scene ("We Want," "Babylon"), and dabbles in more punk rock ("Firing the Love," "Start First," "Set It Off"), but what Skindred really excels at is writing an upbeat and catchy song. "Selector" is a perfect example of this, with scratchy guitars and Webbe chatting his way through the verses smoothly. The best track on the record is "Pressure," which is catchy as hell, fun, and energetic, and most likely makes for a great live show.
While the album is pretty good, it also has its weak points. Skindred is not very talented at writing ballads. "The Fear" is very strange and sounds forced, "The Beginning of Sorrows" is alright, but drags, and the acoustic version of "Pressure" doesn't nearly capture the spark that made the original version great to begin with. Also, Webbe's lyrics a cause for concern. On most songs, the lyrics are just reggae phrases and rambling that don't mean anything, which is fine, except that it becomes hard to take the band seriously in the more metal songs.
Overall, the album is fun to listen to, no songs seem to be put in as filler, and Skindred seems like a band that loves the music they play. A few small issues keep the album from being great, but it was worth my listen, and I strongly encourage a fan of any rock or hip hop music to check this band out.