Skindred – “Shark Bites And Dog Fights”

Some magazines have described Skindred as one of the most unique bands that the UK has to offer. Others have said that they are possibly the best live band to ever emerge from the UK. No matter what people say, one thing is for sure – there’s no-one out there doing what Skindred do, and especially not as well as they do it!

I’ve actually been a fan of Skindred’s unique blend of metal, punk and reggae since I discovered their debut album Babylon through their single Pressure getting played on music channels a few years ago. Since their inception, their unique brand of music has come to be named “RaggaPunk”, and it perfectly describes exactly what Skindred as a band are about – doing something totally different. And now, after the success of their debut and their second album Roots Rock Riot, they’ve returned with a new 8 Track Mini-Album in the form of Shark Bites And Dog Fights.

I first heard some of the new material when seeing them live – coincidentally, discovering that the reviews of them being one of the UK’s best live bands to be true at the same time – and it was immediately catchy and made me want to hear more of it. Their mixture of pounding heavy riffs, swirls of electronics and uplifting, reggae infused vocals courtesy of Welsh front-man Benji Webbe have been developed and honed to be a tighter mix on each song, rather than having a varying mix from song to song, like on Babylon (as good as it was!). This actually makes for a more interesting listen, as there are different things to pick out in each song each time you listen!

Shark Bites And Dog Fights kicks off with a humongous, empowering, call-to-arms anthem in their current single release Stand For Something. The heavy beating riffs mixed with the siren-sounding electronics signify that this is definitely the same Skindred, but with more focus and bite in their music. The lyrics “If you want it, you’ve got to rise and take it” are just a taster of exactly what the attitude of this mini-album is all about – one of defiance, sticking to your guns and trusting in what you believe in. You Can’t Stop It swiftly follows, picking up the pace from a run to a sprint, and harbouring a chorus that will stick in your head like Pritt-Stick!

Songs that follow, like Corrupted and album closer Invincible, continue the theme of defiance and facing against oppression in whatever forms they may appear and, especially in the case of Calling All Stations, do so using distinctly melodic, reggae-tinged choruses and punk-guitar work so catchy you could be layed up in bed with it for weeks afterwards! Who Are You? is easily the slowest song on the record, but that doesn’t make it any less noticeable – despite its context, it could otherwise be mistaken for a bit of a love song. It just goes to show that the theme on Shark Bites And Dog Fights is a distinctly dark one, despite how some of the songs may appear from their first listen. Even their cover of Eddie Grant’s Electric Avenue doesn’t escape the Skindred treatment, and gets made-over into a punk-style chant-along anthem!

If you haven’t heard of Skindred and are only discovering them for the first time, fear not because you are not the only ones. Shark Bites And Dog Fights is instantly likeable if you’re a fan of punk music but want something a bit different in texture and diversity. If you’re already part of the RaggaPunk clan, then Shark Bites And Dog Fights is something you should definitely make an effort to pick up, because this is by far Skindred at their best, and it has renewed my love for their unique musical style!

And if you think this is good, just imagine why they’ve been rated as the UK’s Best Live Band… as the line in Invincible goes – “Raise up your fists if you like this!”

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