Released: 2009, Scarlet Records
Believe it or not, this is my first visit to the world of Skyclad. I know how revered they were back when Martin Walkyier was the frontman, but the band seems to have survived his exodus and soldiered on with guitarist Kevin Ridley now handling the vocals. After getting their feet wet with the new line-up with 2004’s A SENSE OF NORMALITY, the band are back again with their latest album.
Undoubtedly Skyclad are one of the progenitors of folk metal, but listening to IN THE…ALTOGETHER I was struck by the LACK of folk on the album. Really, except for the inclusion of Georgina Biddle’s fiddle, and the occasional song that uses a folk structure (“Still Small Beer”), this album is basically a straight up, kick ass metal album. As I haven’t heard any of the band’s previous albums, I don’t know how this compares stylistically, but I was impressed.
Highlights include the one-two punch of the rollicking “Still Small Beer” and the remorseful ballad “The Well-Traveled Man”. However, there are no clunkers here. Sure, Kevin Ridley’s vocals aren’t exactly Dickinson-esque, but his gruff voice is well-suited to the music. Band leader Steve Ramsey’s guitar work is excellent, equally at home with a vicious riff (“Black Summer Rain”) as with a quietly picked acoustic moment (“Babakoto”). Elsewhere, “Superculture” is a punk-infused speedster with a chorus and lyrics that sound like something Bad Religion would do (with added folk influence of course!).
I’m definitely impressed with Skyclad here. I have no idea how this compares to their earlier albums, but as a standalone metal disc, IN THE…ALTOGETHER is a damn good listen. Recommended.