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Could've been better... - 60%

Goldblaze, June 18th, 2013

Being the sixth Skyclad album, the fact that it's the first average one is no big deal. The one that came before it, "The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea", was already filler-ridden, but the remaining material (the good songs) was really really cool. This album suffers the same fate, albeit with somewhat more fillers. Some would say 'Clad had fillers on every album, but I beg to differ. The first four were top-notch without actual fillers, even if you liked some songs more than the others (who doesn't, it's a perfectly normal thing to prefer). This band being one of my favorite bands has nothing to do with the amount of fillers, but with quality of the actually good material. And in that department, Skyclad delivers with no competition. I have never heard of any other band delivering quality material with the force of a jackhammer, and yet having some abortions on every album past "Prince Of The Poverty Line" which prevent them from being on par with the first four. Maybe Judas Priest though...

The album opens in maybe the silliest fashion you could imagine. "Inequality Street" is one of my favorite songs in the world, with one of the best lyrics in the world, with one of the craziest hooks in the world. Seriously, mrs. Biddle should get a fucking ton of recognition for her work with Skyclad, and I am not sure who penned that melody, whether it was Ramsey or her, but it's pure genius. But the first few seconds consists of Martin singing the chorus a-capella, which is a very, very strange and risky thing to do in this music genre. Partly because metal was always about music primarily, or maybe because you would need some true vocal skills to pull it off, but a-capella is not something commonly heard in metal. This however, is the reason I worship Martin Walkyier as one of the greatest musicians I've heard of. Only him and this band of weirdos could pull it off. This is so good it needs to be heard. Of course, a Skyclad song is not a Skyclad song without the ever-charming lyrics pro-working class which I can't help but agree on:

Here's a real beggars banquet, a brace of rats in a blood stained blanket.
Meanwhile gentlefolk high in their chateau, dip silver spoons into black forest gateau.
Come lords and ladies - raise glasses in toast, to the "other-half" dying to eat.
'Cause they who receive least deserve it the most,it's a literal dead-end... inequality street.

Seriously, fuck you politicians and fuck you rich garbage putting down the working class. Who the fuck would make the country up and running if not them?

Of course, herein lies maybe the biggest reason I consider this album average. After a song like the opener, what could possibly top it? Well, "Wrong Song" doesn't do the work, but it is a nice song. It has a large rocking vibe, and a great solo. "Penny Dreadful" is also another Skyclad classic with another set of crazy violin melodies and crazy lyrics about what we metalheads consider the ultimate truth about our music – it's not made to sell big numbers, it's meant from the people for the people who enjoy it and understand it. "No Deposit, No Return" is a balladic track that I've always had a certain charm for, and "History Lessens" rocks in a similar vein to "Wrong Song", albeit not that intensive.

And that's more or less it. The other songs which I haven't mentioned are pretty much fillers in one way or another. I will not specifically call them out like I usually do, but they aren't as good as these five. Had this been an EP with these songs, it would've easily earn the rating of 90-95. But as it is, they are still here and this album is still a full-length. Now, the filler songs aren't really bad, they just feel like a huge letdown. After a standard set by "Inequality Street", "Penny Dreadful" and the other three (but those two primarily), it just feels dull. It's a good listen from time to time but I guarantee you won't be coming back to them as often as you will to the two champion tracks. If you want some more detailed description, I can say that for example, "Snake Charming" has a really drawn out chorus, and somewhat uninspired riff, while "Sinful Ensemble" tries to be a dark and brooding track but ends up like a plodding number. Also, "I Dubious" could be good, but nothing apart from the chorus is particularly memorable about it. "Sabre Dance" is useless and unnecessary, and a lot of bands (particularly those in the neo-classical niche) have already covered it either directly, or they have disguised it as one of their solos.

For Skyclad standards, this is an average attempt, but five songs are worth both your time and money. The filler material isn't overtly bad, and you may even like some of those tracks more than I did. In conclusion, it's probably the worst album by Skyclad. And it's worth sixty percent. Go figure.