REVIEWS IN BRIEF: NONPOINT – VENGEANCE AND SKINDRED – ROOTS ROCK RIOT
MetalSucks takes a quick look at the latest releases from alt-metal stalwarts Nonpoint and Reggae-metallers Skindred. Our brief opinions and ratings after the jump.
Nonpoint – Vengeance (Bieler Bros.)
After 2005’s highly disappointing To the Pain it was almost a foregone conclusion that Nonpoint had peaked creatively, but with their latest album Vengeance the band proves they still have a little left in the tank. The songs aren’t as consistently good as their 2004 benchmark Recoil, but Vengeance finds Nonpoint bringing back the melody and hooks that they’d forsaken on their last effort. Nonpoint is at their best when combining fast, aggressive, groove-based riffs with pop-metal choruses, not when they’re trying to be uber-heavy for the sake of being uber-heavy. For better or worse Vengeance has some of both; political rallying cry “Wake up World,” the southern-grooved “Bring Me Down” and giant-sized guitar riff of “Hands Off” find the band doing what they do best, while “Change Your Mind” and “Witness” favor stock beats and riffs and lack definition, sometimes with angry, juvenile shout-alongs that Nonpoint really should have outgrown by now (i.e. “I’m gonna drop you / I’m gonna stomp you… I’m gonna stomp you / that’ll be the end of you” from “Everybody Down”). “Breathe” is one track that stands out, both slower than Nonpoint’s typical fare and more creative, with a weaving vocal line, guitar solo, and airy background harmonies. Vocalist Elias Soriano delivers a consistent performance throughout as always, even if what the band is doing underneath is sometimes less interesting. Lyrically he focuses on the usual hot-spots of politics and girls done wrong. While Vengeance does represent a turn back in the right direction for Nonpoint, it doesn’t necessarily represent a step forward; we’ll have to wait ’til the next for that. Nevertheless, the band absolutely kicks it live, and it’s always worth the price of admission to hear “Broken Bones” and “The Truth” for the umpteenth time and watch kids in the pit destroy.
(two and a half out of five horns)
[Visit Nonpoint on MySpace]
Skindred – Roots Rock Riot (Bieler Bros.)
With Dub War, frontman Benji Webbe proved that hard rock and reggae were not mutually exclusive, and with his new(er) outfit Skindred he’s taken it one step further, infusing the heaviest dose of metal yet with reggae and elements of dub. Skindred’s debut Babylon was fierce but raw, and their new release Roots Rock Riot has one-upped all of the production elements, giving the band the big, bombastic, ragga-metal sound they needed. Webbe’s ragga, singing and screaming, though definitely reggae, weave their way through huge, guitar, bass and-drum driven rhythms which are definitely metal. Though sometimes overly simplistic, the band’s music gets the message across and gives Webbe a platform to exercise his versatile pipes (occasional Sean Kingston-esque Auto-Tune notwithstanding). Daniel Pugsley’s bass delivers just the right amount of funk and locks in perfectly with the drums and guitars to give the music some might. The title track, “Ease Up,” “Ratrace,” and “Rude Boy for Life” prove that the band members are as equally adept at writing hooks as they are at playing their instruments, while the production of Matt Squire (Thrice) and mixing of Rick “Soldier” Will (Incubus, Fear Factory) no doubt help make Roots Rock Riot an excellent sounding effort as well. This is an album definitely worth checking out, and a band definitely worth following.
(three and a half out of five horns)
[Visit Skindred on MySpace]
Nonpoint and Skindred are currently touring together with Ankla and Karnivool in the U.S. Visit Pollstar.com for dates!