SKYCLAD - Forward Into The Past
April 29, 2017, a year ago
Used to be a Skyclad fanatic, forking outrageous prices for imports, but haven't paid ANY attention to the band since Martin Walkyier left. That was at the turn of the millennium, 17 years ago! In an era when it doesn't cost anything to investigate new music, figured it was time to randomly reconnect with one of the earliest folk infused metal acts. Walkyier's often puny lyrics were always as much a draw for me, as the infectious, fiddle enhanced sing-alongs. Despite the passage of (considerable) time, the core remains the same: ex-Satan/Pariah bass & guitar tandem Graeme English and Steve Ramsey (respectively) as well as fiddler Georgina Biddle and second guitar Dave Pugh, that quartet intact since Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea (1995)!
“State Of The Union Now”, the proper opener, is a big surprise, sort of punky Green Day meets thrash, even with some electronic modified vocals. What? On this, and a couple others (“The Measure”, title track), Ramsey/English appear to forget which band their writing for (i.e., this ain't Satan). Throwing a brief fiddle section over one verse does little to identify with classic Skyclad. The drum laden jig which follows, “Change Is Coming”, with acoustic guitar and biting, nearly spoken word lyrics that take backhanded swipes at fat cats and polluting the oceans, is more like it. “A Heavy Price To Pay” resumes the Celtic lilt (as well as bawdy tale), but the phrasing seems forced, more Alestorm than Skyclad. Sort of ironic, the title “Words Fail Me”, which begins slow & smooth, eventually getting more aggressive, as the singer gets increasingly frustrated as he relates his situation: “From a Holy book that doesn't help me at all, better things written on a factory wall”. Biddle gets a chance to shine on the 54 second “Unresolved” instrumental. Got the feeling the “Borderline” finale was an ode to smooth throated Blue Oyster Cult.
Even with three short numbers (intro, outro and aforementioned instrumental) this baker's dozen is a few tracks too long (a little editing would have paid dividends in a stronger, more coherent effort), but if like me, you've lost interest in Skyclad (or worse yet, never investigated), there's still some life in the old clothes horse yet. After listening to this, would be keen to see them live again.