Indeed, Benji’s decision to return to pre-’Dred project Dub War for last year’s Westgate Under Fire seems to have narrowed focus back onto the original ragga-metal formula here. The socio-political punch has carried over, too, elevating the woozy cool of This Appointed Love, before supercharging a wonderfully percussive Black Stars and funky highlight State Of The Union. Hardcore fans need not fear any drastic change, of course. Having already shed five singles – the brilliant Gimme That Boom dropping all the way back in November 2022 – Smile has the self awareness to crank up all the trademark colour and bounce we’ve come to demand.
If anything, it feels like those attributes are integral to Skindred’s existence now more than ever. Surfing and swivelling with irreverent aplomb around his bandmates' springy riffs on Addicted, Benji sounds like he’d struggle to unplug from this energy even if he wanted to. Mama, meanwhile, taps into their depthless reserves of simmering soul. As fists-in-the-air chorus to Smile’s closing track so emphatically stresses, these lads really are Unstoppable.
For fans of: Dub War, Enter Shikari, FEVER 333
Smile is released on August 4 via Earache