Skyclad - In The... All Together
Scarlet Records
10 songs (34:48)
Release year: 2009
Skyclad, Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Elias

Poor Skyclad. To go from being at the pioneering forefront of the folk metal movement to quietly releasing albums underneath the radar with little visible promotion is a fate quite undeserved by this band from Newcastle. Their fall in fame is probably also due to the absence of Martin Walkyier, whose low-key growling and satirically poignant lyrics played a big part in raising Skyclad’s quality above and beyond that of the myriad of current folk-metal bands repetitively imitating each other. However, the drop in quality has not been quite as severe as one may think, and for someone (like yours truly) approaching Skyclad in their post-Walkyier years with no prior knowledge of their back catalogue, the change is perceptible but not negative. In fact, it seems that the musicians themselves shine much more on records like A Semblance of Normality and In The… All Together. It’s almost as if they struggled to up the compositional ante to counteract the absence of Walkyier. A commendable effort, although kudos must also be given to, Walkyier’s successor, Kevin Ridley. His voice has a melodic consistency as well as the necessary aggression for some of the more scathing lyrics.

Musically the album fits as the logical successor to A Semblance of Normality. While the orchestra is gone, the band does not revert to its thrash-like roots, but continues to explore new ways to use melody and rhythm, throwing in some vaguely oriental sounding instrumentation as well as the occasional odd time signature. Aggressive riffing still has its place on the record, but is used in a much more economical way. The band tries to distribute all their elements in different ways for the best effect. Solos are frequent and fitting, but short, and always used as a part of the song itself, and not given a function of its own. Melodies are overall slightly more accessible than on its predecessor, and the riffs even take on an epic tone at times, which fits in well with the glorified “working class hero” image evoked by the lyrics. Heartfelt anthems about vagabonds (The Well-Travelled Man), odes to the joy found in beer (Still Small Beer), and lamentations of the decadence of culture (Superculture) are all portrayed by witty, cynical and insightful texts.

Ultimately Skyclad manage to produce a satisfying folk-metal album without risking boring any listeners, although Walkyier devotees will no doubt denounce his continuing absence as an unforgivable blemish. While not pushing the boundaries of musical creativity at all, Skyclad nevertheless manage to distinguish themselves from all the other folk-metal bands in popular acclaim today. Unlike Eluveitie and Korpiklaani, Skyclad is quite conservative regarding instrumentation. Unlike their Teutonic and Scandinavian students, Skyclad do not use bagpipes, hurdy gurdys, tin whistles, accordions or any other sort of outdated instrument. Sticking to the traditional metal formation plus a violin and acoustic guitar, Skyclad produce folk from the attitude, atmosphere and composition of their music rather than the instruments involved. Themes have distinctive jig-like qualities, whereas the slower numbers sound like traditional ballads. Ridley’s voice has a distinct “Britishness” to it, which adds to the sense of cultural displacement. Unfortunately, although the album is quite short, it does begin to drag a little towards the end. However, this is a relatively small annoyance. As far as folk-metal goes, In The… All Together is one of the best this year. An extra push in the experimentation and diversity department would bring this band back to the top of cutting edge folk-metal innovation. I hope so, at least. They definitely have the ability to get there.

Killing Songs :
Words Upon The Street, Still Small Beer, The Well-Travelled Man
Elias quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Skyclad that we have reviewed:
Skyclad - Vintage Whine reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Skyclad - The Answer Machine reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
Skyclad - Oui Avant-Garde A Chance reviewed by Goat and quoted 58 / 100
Skyclad - Irrational Anthems reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Skyclad - The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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