In the 90's, the music that was known as ska underwent an extreme makeover. The rock hooks became more aggressive, but the signature brass horns remained in the mix to complete the package. This new style had been officially classified as "skacore," in other words, the regeneration of ska. Bands like Five Iron Frenzy, Reel Big Fish, and The O.C. Supertones all ridden the waves of this new craze. Sadly, the so-called "third wave ska" movement only lasted a few short years, even though some bands of the genre continued to be major staples in the music industry for another 4 to 5 years. Though we may not see a revival of it anytime soon, fans of the once popular 'skacore' can expect to hear it portrayed in a new light with a band by the name of Skuf.
Despite it's bizarre namesake, this band marries together the elements of traditional 80's ska, modern rock, and even traces of metal. For starters, In This Mortal Sleep may be one of the best ska albums of the 21st Century regardless of the fact that only a few thousand may be able to get their hands on it due to the marketing process for most unsigned bands. Skuf wastes no time as the rock 'n roll opener "Countdown" is a call for a revolution in the church that's been pleading for revival for several ages. The song's lyrics will strike a major chord in the heart of the listener when he hears "This is our resolution inked in Jesus' blood. It's penned upon His wrists and feet, beneath the crimson flood." The tone of the message takes a drastic turn two tracks later as "There Is More" explains the downfalls of hypocritical churches that use the Bible as a crutch for their own personal benefit. Though its preceding darker, metal-influenced track "Death on 6-2-4" appears a little too apparent as being the appropriate lead-in to "There Is More," the album turns more positive as it progesses.
The message of seeking grace and peace in the arms of God beautifully accentuate the punk-flavored tracks "Run To You" and "This Day," making this project very enjoyable. After another ska/metal track, titled "Fall," the album makes an unsual but unique transition with the proceeding track as "Take Us In" provides more of an Arabian-esque vibe layered in with the typical rock guitars and horns. If there is one factor that causes In This Mortal Sleep to suffer, it would be that some of the tracks don't measure up in production quality as well as some of the other tracks in question.
With a new album in the works, Skuf forgoes the naysayers' claim that "ska is dead" and bring forth an effort that pulls no punches and unashamedly declares their love and passion for Christ. Skuf is a band that will keep your feet moving for days at a time, so invite your friends to join along and don't wait "just moments before the final countdown."- Review date: 12/9/05, written by Paul Portell
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