Fresh

Skyclad-Forward into the Past


The Skyclad line-up featuring Martin Walkyier is now an official thing of the past. It’s been more than fifteen years now, and finally it seems that long-time fans of the band have accepted this shift in vocalists. That said, Skyclad haven’t actually done a whole lot since this departure. 2004’s A Semblance of Normality was after all a largely forgettable record, and the follow-up In the…All Together was merely the work of re-hashed ideas, dragged into a more modernized era. That said, you can’t blame the band for wanting to remain relevant, even if such an attempt has been rendered pointless lately.

 

This year’s Forward into the Past, despite succumbing to the same flaws as Skyclad’s previous two releases, is thankfully a step in the right direction. It doesn’t prove to be the case immediately however. “State of the Union Now” may be a pacy, noisy little number, but it seems rushed as a result and is forgettable by the end. “Change is Coming” honestly gives the impression of a band ready to split: The blandness of the instrumental and vocal performance here is simply yet another example of a band not seeming confident in their delivery. And when “Starstruck?” appears on the stereo, you’ll be wondering why the band bothered with the rest of the album.

 

Well, thankfully from “A Heavy Price to Pay”, the band somehow regain a bit of artistic integrity and manage to pull a lot of stunners out of the bag. Whilst not wholly consistent, “A Heavy Price to Pay” is the first song of the album to feature a sound fusion of folk and metallic rhythms. The fluent compositions give way Ridley’s (now) more useful vocal delivery whereas before it almost seemed like he was going through the motions in all haste. The rest of the album continues in such fashion, though the quality varies unfortunately. “Words Fail Me” is a softer, gentler song in tone, but it is subtly performed with finesse and definitely prove to be one of the album’s distinctive highlights. However, contrasting the better songs of the album is the title track, which, like “State of the Union Now”, is a noisy albeit uninspired listen, and the listener is almost flung back into the band’s previous state of stagnation. That said, “Last Summer’s Rain” regains utter confidence and even readies itself to stand toe-to-toe with Skyclad’s previous works featuring Walkyier. The seren folk metal vision on this song in particular is seamless, and balances the best of both worlds with gusto.

 

Forward into the Past is far from perfect, but has evidence which proves Skyclad are stepping in the right direction musically. Whilst there are quite a few songs that are rendered unfortunate filler, the band’s confidence in delivery is regained with the several golden moments scattered throughout. Perhaps with the next album, consistency will be in abundance.

 

3.1/5

Released: April 28th, 2017

  1. A Storyteller’s Moon (Intro)
  2. State of the Union Now
  3. Change is Coming
  4. Starstruck?
  5. A Heavy Price to Pay
  6. words Fail Me
  7. Forward into the Past
  8. Unresolved
  9. The Queen of the Moors
  10. Last Summer’s Rain
  11. The Measure
  12. Borderline
  13. A Storyteller’s Moon (Outro)

Bandpage: http://www.skycladmusic.co.uk/

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