Review: Skyclad

(Nuclear Blast)

Skyclad hits as strong as ever with their tenth album in as many years together as a band.  Not much has changed between their first and tenth full length albums.  Most notably, the songs all hang together better.  The compositions are more cohesive, the time changes more natural and the violin has been fully and well incorporated into their brand of metal that manages to draw influence from English folk melodies and much of the NWOBHM scene that was so beloved by the anti-Napster, Lars Ulrich.  Speaking of file sharing programs, Skyclad has done with the packaging on this CD what bands simply must do to ensure sales.  The packaging is a beautiful tri-fold case.  The front flap is a partially completed jigsaw puzzle that lifts away to reveal the front cover art.  Inside the booklet are paintings by Duncan Storr who draws influence from celtic mythology.  There may be folks out there who like the minimalism of an all black album cover, but I can do as much myself with a square of thick paper and magic marker.  Musically, the guitar work is some of the finest on any album of the year that was 2000.  Of course, one must enjoy virtuosity rather than just high production values elevating the simplistic “chunk-a-chunk-a-chunk-a” shit beyond its place.  Lyrically Skyclad are still very political.  Lyricist and vocalist, Martin Walkyier, has always been very sharp with a turn of phrase and somehow after all these years manages to still have more to say than a hundred Fred Dursts who all want to tell you nothing more than about how old school they are and to get the fuck out of their face.  I’ve been listening to Skyclad for ten years now and I’m showing no signs of quitting.  Take that as a recommendation.