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Album Review: Skinflint – Skinflint

For over a decade now, Skinflint of Gaborone, Botswana has consistently delivered their signature take on traditional metal. Their self-titled sixth full-length features much of the same influences from Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, among other classics, but presents them in a more grounded fashion than their past efforts. Unfortunately, the lessened atmosphere results in a rather spotty execution.

While the production is rawer than their other albums, the actual playing is solid. The guitar tone offers plenty of Maiden-style melody work and bluesy leads, the bass accompanies it with appropriate clanking, and the drums are tight with plenty of intricate beats on display. The pseudo-spoken vocal approach offers a storytelling feel that is interesting albeit an acquired taste.

Unfortunately, this tightness often works against them too. The rhythms get too intricate at times, which makes tempos drag and songs seem like they’re longer than they really are. Skinflint is a more mid-tempo band by design, but the method just isn’t sustainable without the proper atmosphere to build it up or engaging grooves to maintain the listener’s interest. The rather monotonous vocals don’t exactly liven things up much either.

It doesn’t help that the songs themselves aren’t the best written either. Tracks like “The Prophecy of Nonggawuse” and “The Hyena Sorcerer” dig into ominous Mercyful Fate ground, while others like “Chiruwi” and “Tuyewera” feel like homages to Thin Lizzy, but the stiff performances make them all sound flat despite the variety. Things do get better toward the end with “Mathoa” boasting a bluesy swing, but there’s nothing that qualifies for staple status.

Skinflint’s sixth album isn’t bad, but I find myself wishing I liked it more than I really do. The band has plenty of talent and there are good ingredients at the core, but a combination of stiff performances and flat songwriting makes for a dull whole. It’s a shame that the self-titled album doesn’t represent the band at the best. Classic metal fans should really explore 2014’s Nyemba to see Skinflint’s strongest work.

Highlights:
“The Prophecy of Nonggawuse”
“Tuyewera”
“Mathoa”

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