Steel Pulse

African Holocaust

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A long seven years since their previous album, Rage and Fury, reggae legends Steel Pulse return yet again, this time with African Holocaust, and yet again have their ranks dwindled. Core members David Hinds (vocals, rhythm guitar) and Selwyn Brown (keyboards, backing vocals) are the only ones to remain from the band's glory years, but they more than hold their own and they're joined by a deep roster of supporting musicians, a list too long to list. As always, the music is what's most important, and on that count, this Steel Pulse lineup indeed makes the mark. The sound here is superglossy for such grassroots-level reggae, sure, and that may indeed irk some listeners who still yearn for the lo-fi golden age of roots reggae. Even so, the songwriting and musicianship here are also super -- as super as anything bearing the Steel Pulse banner in a decade or two (standouts include "Global Warning," "Blazing Fire," and the title track). The thing is, this is largely a Hinds solo album; he writes all the songs in addition to singing and lending guitar to them, so if there's anything lacking it's a sense of unison among the bandmembers. You have to wonder if this guy ever tires of Steel Pulse. After all, it's been decades now, and here again he shows no sign of slowing down. Granted, it did take him seven years to get the album out, but still. There's really not too much else to say about African Holocaust. Longtime fans will know what to expect. Newcomers should know a few things: above all, Steel Pulse are known for performing well-written, Afrocentric songs that are rebellious without being negative or inflammatory, and though the band membership has changed over the years, the type of songs hasn't, nor has the steady move away from dancehall that was apparent on the band's previous album. This is very well done contemporary reggae, and even the rhetoric-laden liner notes and iconographic outer packaging are well done. Overall, yes, it's well done.

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