Released: 2001, HammerHeart Records
Reviewer: Michael De Los Muertos
Sweden – heavy metal’s Garden of Eden – has done it again. From the land of lutefisk, Volvos and proud Viking traditions comes still another astonishing band, Skyfire, whose first album, TIMELESS DEPARTURE, is an instant masterpiece. I had no expectations at all when I put in this album, although I thought its cover image of a king, a castle, and a mob of medieval warriors certainly boded well. I did not expect to hear one of the very best albums of 2001 coming out of my stereo speakers a few seconds later!
TIMELESS DEPARTURE is the best album that Children of Bodom never made. That’s the first comparison I can make – don’t get me wrong, I think Children of Bodom are terrific, one of the best metal bands to emerge out of the late 1990s. Skyfire is better. They’re consistently heavy, with galloping, crunchy guitar riffs, a lot of melody, tremendous energy in every song, and black metal style vocals that perfectly fit the onslaught that comes at you. After the obligatory intro, Skyfire launch into the proceedings right away, with the first full track “Fragments of Time.” It continues to get better. “The Universe Unveils” is fast and catchy, beautifully melodic, but very heavy. While there’s a strong power metal influence in Skyfire’s sound, this is not the kind of metal likely to be slagged as Helloween-cloned “gay metal” by so many of the movement’s detractors – one listen to any track here and you can’t deny that these guys play their hearts out and hold nothing back. Even the “slow” song, “Bleed Through Me, Bleed For Me,” is excruciatingly heavy. No “cheesy” Iron Fire-esque ballads on this one! The farther you get into this album, the more triumphs you hear. If I had to pick a favorite, however, I’d probably go with “From Here To Death,” which, on my first listen to TIMELESS DEPARTURE, is what finally cemented for me the fact that this band is not a fluke – they’re something truly extraordinary, and definitely worth the time and expense of any serious metal fan.
This album strikes me with about the same power as THE HUNTER, last year’s jaw-dropping debut by Persuader. It’s on about that order – a band that just comes out of nowhere and knocks you on your ass! All aspects of Skyfire’s music are top-notch. Guitars and keyboards (courtesy of Martin Hanner and Andreas Edlund) work together flawlessly. Vocalist Henrik Wenngren out-Bodoms Children of Bodom. The songwriting talent on this album is also extremely noteworthy. I’ve listened to this album several times and tried to find something negative to say about TIMELESS DEPARTURE, but anything I can say would be nit-picking. This is truly an amazing album, and one that gets better with each spin. It’s true nourishment for the metallic soul, and one of those kinds of experiences that remind you once again of why you’re a metalhead and why it’s so cool to be one.
As I sit here listening once again to the band’s eponymous track “Skyfire,” I’m imagining how it’s going to sound live at Wacken. I can guarantee you I’ll be there. The crazy guy in the front row with the Skyfire T-shirt on will be me!