Album: The Queen (Skrat)
Price: Rs 120
Rating: *** 1/2
By Suyash Gabriel
Skrat has always come across as a band that isn’t afraid to let go of the reigns, and to put it simply, go nuts. Both in songwriting and stage presence, they have managed to embody the true meaning of the phrase “all guns blazing”, which is exactly what they have done in their latest album, The Queen (Independent). The sound on this one, which released last year, is a refreshing departure from the everyday drudgery of the over-produced club music that gluts the stores these days.
The three-piece band from Chennai delivers a power-packed performance. The album kicks things off with the explosive number, Machete. Between the initial flanger patch on the guitar and the borderline-brutal bridge, this one has a grungy vibe to it, with elements of post-punk thrown into it as well. Aggressive vocals and refreshingly dark melodies characterise this one, and introduce you to a new, but familiar sound that we heard in the first two albums released by the band. With intelligently syncopated drumming and guitar layers that fill up the sound well, this song is a great album opener.
The next is the title track of the album, which stands out for its songwriting. It is a gob-stopping, raw and emotional performance by vocalist TT Sriram.
He truly comes into his element, displaying the characteristics of a true-blue frontman. The song is groovy and the melodies are, for lack of a better word, evil.
Choke and Broke moves into a slightly happier realm, but still demonstrates a raw, almost raunchy sound. With slicey hi-hats in an extremely infectious verse, this one shakes things up. The bass guitar is the true hero here.
While Skrat’s sound reminds you of some of the best-known hard rock and grunge outfits out there, including Billy Talent, Bush, and Charm City Devils, they manage to add their own flavour to it.
For example, Love rider, which has an almost rock ‘n’ roll vibe to it, with old school melody lines and strategic pauses, departs from the otherwise heavy sound that characterises this album.
Revolution and Bang bang bang are high energy and have a level of oomph. But, the band also has a soft side, which rears its head in Favourite song and Full monty. While these aren’t exactly ballads, they do have driven parts. Favourite song is a love number with lyrics (a trait that this band isn’t famous for) that go “there’s a lot about a girl that they don’t understand, so you can be my friend if you like my favourite song”. While the overall feel of the album does get a tad bit repetitive, it maintains a certain flow, without listener fatigue setting in.
The band illustrates their affinity for experimenting in Full monty. With a flavour that sounds somewhat like a modern Pearl Jam, this one is definitely one of the more memorable songs in the album.
The Queen ends with a bang, almost literally, with the song Gun slinger II, which includes lyrics that tell the story about a desperate father out for vengeance against the man who shot his son. This number is dynamically charged, full of ups and downs, and leaves you wanting for more.