Review Summary: Essentially, this is a melting pot of power, melodic death, neo-classical and symphonic metal styles.
Skyfire is a metal band from the country of Sweden in the town of Hoor. The current five piece released their first two albums on the record label Hammerheart before subsequently moving to Arise to release Spectral
, their third studio effort. The band offers quite a unique sound, mixing genres of power metal, melodic death, symphonic metal, and even some elements of neo-classical metal for a rather dense product that utilizes the skills of the band’s keyboardist more so than the typical symphonic metal band would. It is for this reason that the band are tipically seen as a Children of Bodom and Dark Tranquility--mixed with parts Mors Principium Est--hybrid of sorts.
Interestingly enough, Spectral
opens up with the album’s longest song, “Conjuring the Thoughts.” If the listener is familiar with the band’s past releases, he may notice a slight drop in the tempo of the music. Mind Revolution
--the band’s second album--was typically a lot faster in comparison, though this tempo change isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Spectral
. If anything, the drop in speed allows for the listener to remember certain sections of the songs with more ease. Also, singer Henrik Wenngren’s shrieking is a lot easier to decipher and understand given the fact he doesn’t seem rushed to keep up with the instruments as much as he was in past albums.
Highlights of Spectral
include the aforementioned opener, the haunting “Shivering Shade”, the stair-climbing keyboard sections of “Awake”, and finally, the memorable chorus of “Shadow Creator”. In fact, the chorus of “Shadow Creator” brings to mind a valid point concerning this band’s music: while Skyfire are technically in the melodic death metal genre, they almost never rely on vocal hooks or melodies to make their songs catchy. Most of the melodies here are instead featured within the sound of the instruments themselves--particularly on the keyboards as I have stated before. Album closer “Tranquility’s Maze” closes the album much like the songs that came before it, featuring many memorable keyboard sections and tempo changes throughout.
The dense style of the music--blending equally prominent keyboards and guitars, bass, drums, and shrieks--often causes the album to “blend” together if the listener doesn’t much pay attention. As a result, this characteristic gives the album the tag of a “grower”, encouraging repeated listens to fully sink into the listener. The only negative I have against the album--or the band for that matter--is Henrik Wenngren’s vocal style. After a while his often-times undecipherable shrieking becomes quite a chore to listen to, which in turn brings down the other elements of the band’s sound. Given this complaint, I was quite relieved to hear that the band would be featuring new vocal sections by a different vocalist on their upcoming album, Esoteric
In summary, Skyfire’s Spectral
offers the band’s distinct melting-pot sound at a slightly slower pace but with an added improved and clearer production. Fans of any of their past albums are certainly encouraged to buy the record as much of what made the previous two releases great returns here once again. Those unfamiliar with the band and may be looking for a new metal band to listen to should also give this album a spin; the band’s blend of genres almost guarantees something to be enjoyed by the every metal head.