SKINFLINT - IKLWA (Pure Steel Records)
(Review by Sloof)
This band takes you to the South of Africa, to a country called Botswana, in between Namibia and Zimbabwe, and if you go a little more to the south, you arrive in South Africa. It’s a place without a sea and beaches, so what else can people do, besides making music? Well, I must confess, that this is the very first band that I got to know from Botswana, but after I listened to this album, I’m anxious to hear more. I want to know if this is a rare gem, or one of the first bands that is able to sign a contract with the German Pure Steel Records. If Skinflint is the harbinger of Botswanian metal, I will welcome the rest with open arms! The band their line up is limited to three members, and nowadays a girl named Sandra Sbrana is sitting behind the drum kit instead of the previous drummer Mothusi. Last named Mothusi recorded this album with the band, but was replaced by Sandra around 2012. This is the re-release of their second album ‘Iklwa’, which is originally released in 2010. Pure Steel Records re-released already their third album ‘Dipoko’, but decided that this band deserves more right to exist, so now they also re-release the second album of Skinflint, named ‘Iklwa’. I did a little search and I guess that Iklwa means ‘short stabbing spear’ in Zulu. Regarding the front cover artwork of this album, I guess that the translation will be correct.
The album starts with a little acoustic guitar and a storyteller who introduces us to the story of Iklwa. Really funny, as you hear that a black man is telling it in a typical narration/pronunciation. ‘Iron Pierced King’ is the real first track on this album and the three words of this title are chanted out loud in the chorus: Iron!! Pierced!! King!! It’s a little cheap, but Skinflint is an Epic Metal band and it might be a genre-typical issue. Halfway, there is a break in the song with only a simple guitar and some drumming of Mothusi ‘Cool’ Mahuri. It’s time for a guitar solo and this one results that the speed in this song is increasing. It’s not always perfectly played, but it has some charisma as well. The trio of Skinflint bring their music straight from their heart, and you just hear that this is a pure and honest band!
Title track ‘Iklwa’ opens like a ballad-like song with really modest guitars and drums, but the bass player Kebonye ‘Raskebo’ Koloso is drawing all attention to his four strings instrument. After two minutes, this song explodes in a track with a good speed and great vocals of Giuseppe. This track turns out to be a neckbreaker and I’m sure that this song will have a positive effect at live gigs, as far as this band is able to play their music in front of a crowd in Botswana. A track like ‘When You Die, You Die!’ has again the typical elements that make this band so special. It’s all really modest, it’s all discrete and reserved, but there is a little magic present which results in a musical climax. Undesirable, you will be drawn into the structure of the song, and as there are many breaks and hooks in the music of Skinflint, it’s always interesting from beginning to end. The just mentioned track is an instrumental song, but it’s so contrarily that it becomes a real highlight (again).
Besides the 8 tracks that featured the original album, we get also two bonus tracks on this re-release. The first one is called ‘Army Of The Dead’, which fits perfectly with the other tracks, and this song was originally on their first release ‘Massive Destruction’. A second bonus song is the live version of ‘Gauna’, a song that can be found on their 2011 EP ‘Gauna’.
After listening to the 10 tracks on this re-release, I can only watch out for more material of Skinflint, as this is really my kind of surprise of the month. They create music with few possibilities, but because it’s all straight from the heart, you will concede that this is the purest of the pure. It reminds me to bands like Cirith Ungol, as they were decades ahead of their time. Skinflint can become the next big thing, although I hope that they will remain underground and gather a cult status like Cirith Ungol once did. Skinflint is undefiled of Western deterioration or depravation, there is no big money involved, as this is the purest artistic form that can be found on earth!
My rating: 88 / 100
95+ : Outstanding, high valued albums & Classic Ones… a direct purchase is advisable !
Between 90 and 95: Surpasses the style of music, must be heard/ordered by every Metal fan
Between 80 and 89: Good in its own genre, recommended for those hooked on it
Between 70 and 79: Decent but best previewing
Between 60 and 69: Rather moderate
Between 50 and 59: Bad, substandard
50- : Rubbish