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Skinflint - "IKLWA" (CD)

Skinflint - "IKLWA" CD cover image

"IKLWA" track listing:

1. Intro (2:22)
2. Iron Pierced King (5:40)
3. Mbube the Great (7:27)
4. Burning the Soul with Diesel (3:13)
5. Iklwa (3:57)
6. The Fallen (4:28)
7. Profit Making Funeral (8:57)
8. When you Die, you Die! (4:50)

Reviewed by on May 25, 2011

"While it’s unlikely Skinflint will be selling out huge stadiums around the world in the near future, the band’s second album 'IKLWA' will likely find a solid following among fans of old school metal who are willing to give it a chance."

With the exception of a few long running acts and the oddball new band able to mimic the sound of a different time, traditional heavy metal generally doesn’t get as much love as the many sub-genres that have broken off from it. Botswana-based group Skinflint is bucking that trend, going back to the roots of metal, but still putting on a few different twists and turns that keep the ride interesting. While it’s unlikely Skinflint will be selling out huge stadiums around the world in the near future, the band’s second album “IKLWA” will likely find a solid following among fans of old school metal who are willing to give it a chance.

The opening intro track gives off a bit of a false impression of the band’s actual sound, using a spoken word segment with an atmospheric and subdued guitar tone to create the image of someone passing on a mythological story around a campfire in the dead of night. Despite the misleading opening and the band’s location, the music doesn’t have a huge traditional African atmosphere. While the band member’s homeland undoubtedly has an influence on their playing, Skinflint isn’t the African equivalent of Arkan or Orphaned Land, and instead tends to play straight up old fashioned metal.

With the absence of screaming or blast beats, the bass gets to head out and become a huge player in each of the songs. The music overall also tends more toward the melodic end, with a clearly noticeable Iron Maiden influence to be found. The vocals stay near the clean end, with a hint of gruffness and a raspy edge. Vocalist Giuseppe Sbrana’s singing may take some getting used to for international fans, as he has a very thick accent, but it also gives the songs a unique feel that can’t be found in many other metal bands.

There is a good balance of musical direction on the album, with some songs on the slower and atmospheric side, others being more emotional, and still more bursting with energy and heaviness. Unfortunately the band hasn’t perfected the pacing yet, as several mid-paced sections without vocals feel barren. A few short, albeit suitably “epic,” guitar solos make their way into the music, but the album as a whole could benefit from more technicality.

Skinflint has got the right idea in its unique take on traditional heavy metal, even if there is plenty of room for taking the music to the next level. Those rough spots shouldn’t dissuade fans of the so-called “new wave of British heavy metal” from giving the album a listen through, however, and with a little polish the band shouldn’t have trouble breaking out of its country of origin to become more well known across the metal landscape.

Highs: Great traditional heavy metal sound and unique vocals

Lows: The pacing is a bit off and the sound quality is slightly rough.

Bottom line: Traditional metal with a few unique twists from an unknown African band that deserves more exposure.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)