Skyfire - Esoteric
Pivotal Rockordings
Melodic Death Metal
10 songs (52:16)
Release year: 2009
Skyfire, Pivotal Rockordings
Reviewed by Kyle
Album of the month

For whatever reason, when I’m having a conversation about the Melodic Death Metal genre, Skyfire is rarely ever brought up. Maybe it’s just that this band’s signature brand of Power Metal – infused Melodeath tips too far towards the melodic end of the spectrum, but I personally believe that it's because the band has been absent in the scene for far too long; Esoteric, though you wouldn’t believe it when compared to Skyfire’s previous albums, is the band’s first in over five years. Not many bands can take such a leave of absence and return without a hitch in their sound, but Skyfire has managed to do it while simultaneously creating one of the best albums of their career.

Skyfire, for the uninitiated, is a Swedish Melodeath 5-piece whose prime influences come from both Finnish and native Swedish bands that share the same genre; They combine the popular Finnish Melodic Death sound (Children Of Bodom, Kalmah) with recognizable sounds from the Gothenburg scene (Namely Dark Tranquility), while at the same time adding a highly melodic influence. These influences combined create an original, exhilarating sound that is improved upon with each and every album. But with Esoteric, it feels like Skyfire has really found the right balance between the various styles they’ve attempted; the album feels less like an experiment than previous works, and more like the group really knows what it wants to do. They’ve near-perfectly blended the Bodom-esque aggression of Timeless Departure, the highly melodic hooks of Mind Revolution, and the slower, more modest direction of Spectral into something that’s both fresh and entirely familiar.

The album begins with a symphonic overture before diving into the first two songs, Esoteric and Rise And Decay. The former is a fairly standard Skyfire track, showcasing a graceful piano intro before breaking into a speedy, riff-driven track that’s laced with majestic moments, typically in the chorus. The latter, however, is a longer track that toys with great melodies and a slower pace before abruptly plunging into a song that’s both aggressive and intricate; melodic keyboards are intertwined with the light-speed riffs, and the pre-chorus builds and builds in bombast before the music suddenly stops, and a slower-paced chorus is revealed. Nothing seems forced or out of place in any way; the music simply flows extremely well, and none of the instruments ever get in the way of each other. It’ll take a few listens of Esoteric for all the different arrangements to soak in, and in order to not miss anything, the album requires your full attention (Though it can easily be played as background music).

As I scan the CD for signs of a weak track, I’m both pleased as a music fan and distressed as a reviewer that I can’t find a single weak point. There’s songs on Esoteric that are better than others, especially on the second half of the album (Which is overall more creative and aggressive), but for the most part, everything is extremely solid. There are, however, a few quirks that apply to the album as a whole rather than the individual tracks. The first thing that irks me is the production; there’s much emphasis on drums and keys here, and both are perfectly clear and loud, but the guitar sound clearly lacks the necessary punch; lead guitar parts in particular sound a little bland. Another thing I’d like to see improved upon is the guitar work as a whole; it’s simply not very impressive, and while it easily conquers the task at hand, I’d love to see a wider variety of riffs and more solos in the future (The soloing on The Legacy Of The Defeated is nice and a bit bluesy at times; perhaps Skyfire should do more guitar work like this). More varied guitar work would also make the album as a whole more entertaining; Esoteric is an album that can easily be listened to over and over again, but at times the songs will blend in with one another and you may not even realize that the track has changed if you aren’t paying attention.

Despite Esoteric’s (Few) flaws, as far as lightning-paced, Power Metal-influenced Melodeath goes, your really can’t go wrong with Skyfire. It’s easily one of my top five favorite bands of a genre that’s filled with dull bands, and Esoteric’s thickly layered (Thanks to synths that are majestic yet never cheesy) sound provides enough entertainment to bring you back for multiple listens to catch something you may have missed before.

Killing Songs :
Rise And Decay, Seclusion, Misery's Supremacy, Under A Pitch Black Sky, The Legacy Of The Defeated
Kyle quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Skyfire that we have reviewed:
Skyfire - Spectral reviewed by Jay and quoted 96 / 100
Skyfire - Haunted by Shadows MCD reviewed by Jay and quoted no quote
Skyfire - Mind Revolution reviewed by Jay and quoted 90 / 100
Skyfire - Timeless Departure reviewed by Danny and quoted 80 / 100
1 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 4 replies to this review. Last one on Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:40 pm
View and Post comments