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Humpty-FUCKING-dumpty. - 8%

Bash, July 27th, 2007

Well this is crap. I know I know, I'm giving away the ending, but I guess you already looked at the rating (or, alternatively, listened to the album yourself) so I might as well get straight to the point. Skyclad seems to show up whenever folk metal is discussed. Having, regretfully, finally caved in and checked them out I find that odd because I hear hardly any folk here, just some tired heavy metal mixed with ”oh look how weird I am” avant-garde passages and a few string instruments every now and then in the background. Perhaps I have the wrong album, maybe they're more folk on their other releases, but on this one they simply do not qualify, despite how many different flutes they randomly throw in. To be honest, I probably would hardly even notice the few folk influences if people didn't keep calling them folk. In any case, ”crap” will suffice as a genre description for me.

Okay I might've been a bit harsh there since this album isn't completely void of good ideas, it's just that there are just about enough to carry maybe two or three songs and they're all mashed between masses of horrible ideas and filler to make the album last a whopping 50 minutes. Like for example in ”Just What Nobody Wanted” there's an unusual, almost avant-garde rhythm that seems very refreshing for the genre, but other than that the song is completely worthless, from the boring as hell guitarwork to the terribly misplaced whiny lyrics. Same goes for ”Brimstone Bullet”, a song that is otherwise ripe full of head-splitting retardation (see: the chorus), where there's a short break in the middle of the song and it's continued with some nice ”marching” passage, only to be continued with more things of minimal interest. I'm not complaining because there aren't enough superficially interesting quirks like described above, they aren't really necessary even though they do certainly help, but because everything else is so damn bland and boring and heard before, there's nothing remotely original to be found here. By far the worst offender here is the vocalist.

Martin Walkyier basically has no voice at all, so instead of actually producing sounds that resemble singing he barks monotonously into the mic. There are a few attempts at clean vocals here and there which only work to prove that he indeed sounds like total shit even when not trying to sound like an ogre or a fat barkeep or a pirate or what-the-hell-ever he is going for. It's just the same ”BLARG BLARG BLARG BLARG” all the way through the album, it's just so goddamn ridiculous and at the same time infuriating. I'd rather listen to a lawnmower. Whenever there's something remotely interesting happening then all of a sudden, oops, there are the damned awful vocals again to ruin it. I doubt I could get past the vocals even if rest of the music was any good. That is not the case though, as there is not a single good riff on the entire album. The guitar is just uninteresting from the generic tone of it to the forgettable leads which don't even appear that often as the guitarists seem to mostly just play some dull rhythm stuff as if the vocalist could carry the music alone (though I suppose he manages to do just that if their goal was to piss me off as much as possible, which I'm starting to believe is the case). There's really nothing to say about the drums as they aren't good or bad, and don't even ask about the bass. To summarize the efforts of the rhythm section: boring. There's no use in going in depth on this because there is not much to go in depth about.

Almost everything about this album is so flamboyantly annoying it leaves me stunned at how flat-out angry it makes me. It's not even the good kind of angry, the kind that you might get from listening to some grindcore or death metal, that cathartic kind that leaves you a little tired but satisfied and calm. The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea makes my eye twitch and my hands tremble in wanting to strangle whoever is responsible for producing this piece of garbage. The song ”Jeopardy” for example incorporates such ”fun” things as an acapella intro of a kid reciting the humpty dumpty rhyme. While the kid is no doubt vastly more talented than whoever wrote the rest of the song, it really leaves me wondering what the hell they were thinking when they decided something like this would be a good thing to add to a metal song? Not that the song is any good otherwise or void of other annoying elements (Do we really need the ”Right, left, right, left” thing too? Wasn't this band gimmicky enough as it is?). While were at it I'd like to hear what the line of reasoning that resulted in the conclusion that singing about Jeopardy was a good idea was. I never thought I'd get so wound up by music but here I am, angry as fuck at this album.

”A Stranger In The Garden” is the only attempt made (apart from the first half of ”Another Fine Mess”) to break away from the formula of fast-paced rockers they seem to aim for, but in doing so Skyclad decided to go totally overboard and make a song that is not even metal at all. This is, to put it bluntly, tree-hugging hippie crap. Seriously, listening to this song separately you could easily mistake this song to be a fruit of the hippie movement. Well, apart from the chorus, in which we descend right back into the usual vocals. There's actually a pretty good line in the chorus too which positively stuck in my head, ”This is the Old God's country -, You can bring me here to die.”, but immidiately after that lies this gem: ”It's a thinking mans Valhalla -”. Yeah, completely ruined, after this everything else is irrelevant. That is the lamest lyric I have ever heard and when talking about metal that is saying a lot. Lyrics in general on this album appear to be pretty good but properly studying them would require also listening to the singer, which I find to be an inhuman task I would not wish upon my worst enemy.

In conclusion, if you ever come across a copy of this release (like for example while rummaging through the garbage cans behind that brothel in Thailand), smash it into atoms and bury it. This album simply does not have the right to exist in the same universe as people with ears. I kind of feel sorry for Skyclad, they tried to make a quirky, folky heavy metal album with loads of energetic songs galloping forward in a captivating manner, but instead they've created a runaway train of utter annoyance. Scratch that, I don't feel sorry for Skyclad, in fact I wish death upon them, I feel sorry for myself for being exposed to this musical equivalent of a thousand crying babies in the seat next to you on an airplane ride from Cape Town to Reykjavik and back again. All I can do now is hope I can put this experience behind me and that writing this review has helped to keep someone from ever opening this can of worms and getting scarred for life like I fear I might've been.