By Jared Hynes
I have to admit that I’m a bit of a Skyclad enthusiast and collect everything the band puts out. So much of a fan am I, that even the loss of a key figure, and co-founding member in vocalist/lyricist Martin Walkyier, who basically formed the identity of the band, I obsessively followed what the band was up to and anxiously awaited what they would come up with next.
The 2002 release of No Daylights, Nor Heeltaps was very disappointing and had me worried, but that release was only a compilation of older songs given the acoustic treatment. The real test would be what new, original material they could come up with. I’d have to wait another two years to find out when 2004’s A Semblance of Normality was released. Different, but the same, best describes my initial thoughts on the first album released without Martin. Semblance was extremely catchy, with a more pub band feel in both the song writing and vocals of Kevin Ridley. Verdict: very pleased, and the absence of Martin was of little concern to me.
In The…All Together, although not quite as catchy as Semblance, is much more of a metal album and could have easily fit into their catalog amongst any of their 90’s albums. The majority of Skyclad’s signature sound from its genre defining beginnings is present: speedy, almost thrash riffing, with violin on top leading the way, and play-on-words, tongue in cheek lyrics to accompany the music. The only real difference from the early material is the lack of Martin’s harsh, barking vocals, and even then, Kevin’s delivery this time around is reminiscent the former vocalists. There lies one of the biggest differences that separated the two Skyclad eras. Kevin sounds more pissed off this time around and is more forceful in his delivery, many times sounding very similar to Martin.
I also really like the open, airy and organic production. Every instrument is loud and clear and there are no signs of modern production technology to be found.
Fans that have dismissed this band due to the vocal/lyricists changes are doing themselves a huge disservice as Skyclad are still truly keeping up their identity and chops that they were originally praised for. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another 5 years for a new album.