Skinflint is a Metal band from Botswana, but unlike their brothers who have performed on the M4A stage, they are NOT death metal. In fact, their sound reminds me of early 80s USPM (That’s United States power metal to you plebs). This trio of metal warriors remind me why I love heavy metal. The album is tight, the lyrics are drenched in images of bloodshed and African myth. Quite frankly, this is the kind of album that would not feel out of place between your old Manowar, Warlord and Iron Maiden vinyls. Clocking in at just under 39 minutes, it even follows the standard of early 80’s metal albums. (Battle Hymns clocked in at 36 minutes and Iron Maiden at 37 minutes, respectively). If I was forced to pigeonhole this release, I’d forcefully “ram it down” into the classic heavy Metal Church. That’ll be the last of the 80s references, I promise… Though it is currently “Two Minutes to Midnight”… (ba-dum tish)
Dipoko begins with the title track, setting the tone of the album. Lyrically it deals with spirits appearing in the dead of night, and the bass driven groove, reminds me of “Wrathchild” in its dark, mid-tempo lament. In fact the whole album (after listening to it about 42 times) has gone darker and darker, and I could liken it to brutal death metal with the imagery it invokes:
“Eyes of fire, no flesh to waste, I will suck your innards. No glory light can save you at night. eyes of fire, I am lord of the night” – There is a prime example of the brutality (though I detest that word) of the lyrics. The cohesion of the album comes to the forefront through “Eyes of the Night”, written in a very similar structure to “Dipoko”, it’s a strong second track.
Next we get treated to some African percussion and wailing guitars in “Blood Ox Ritual” a song that deals with the ritual of slaughtering oxen to appease evil spirits and cleanse the land. How metal is that? I’ll take “pretty fucking” for 500! The albums slows down for the next track “Dreams of Eternity”. There is an impressive bridge and guitar solo on this one, and it stands in stark contrast of the to the following track. “The Warrior Dance” is a fast one, almost classifiable as speed metal; it just makes you want to raise your fist in the air!
“Olitiau” as far as I can surmise is a song about Batman. Not really, but rather a half-man, half-bat creature. A vampire, if you will, but not the sparkly boyfriend type, oh no, more like the Bram Stoker kind. Oral tradition, or storytelling is a big part of traditional African beliefs and mythology, which is why I applaud Skinflint for this album. It feels like they are telling stories, as much as they are writing music and “Olitiau” is a perfect example of this.
“Iron Mamba” is probably my favourite track on the album. Short harsh vocal patterns, chuggy guitars, lyrics like “Gun metal grey, fast like a bullet”. It’s just a rocking track with a great guitar solo worked in. Classic heavy metal. “Mask of the Dead” continues with the storytelling model, blended with mid-tempo riffage and “Gboyo” closes the album on a slower, slighty doomy note. It tells the tale of a creature that hunts children who have sinned.
On the whole, I like the album, every aspect of it leads me to believe that Skinflint have disregarded anything post 1984. It’s wonderfully old-school, even down to the recording and mastering. As I said earlier, if it were on vinyl, it would fit nicely next to my copy of Battle Hyms.
Check out the music video for “Mask of the Dead”, off Dipoko below: