Review Summary: Skyclad tune down the heavy metal distortion to bring forth their intimate pagan/folk aesthetics.
In their 1998 album The Answering Machine?
, English folk metal act of Skyclad concluded with conviction what had been left half-finished in Oui Avant Garde A Chance
, that is, the undisputed taking over of their trademark folk/pagan melodic wizardry at the expense of the coarse heavy/thrash of early-to-mid albums. In those albums (1991-1994), heavy/thrash coexisted with folk in perfect harmony and gave the band great character, especially when compared to the rest of “classic” metal bands at that time. However, in view of the successful experimentation in The Answering Machine?
, it became apparent that the folk side in Skyclad’s early musical endeavors had the potential of being adapted anew. Hence, selected tracks from early albums were reformed from the band and given away to fans as a free EP, titled Outrageous Fourtunes
at selected dates during Skyclad’s 1999 German tour.
In order to come across with the task, Skyclad chose four tracks overall from Prince Of The Poverty Line
and A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol
albums. In short, band did a terrific job, starting from the superb sound production. Although the original take of “Land of the Rising Slum” is an immensely energetic and groovy song, its new version re-adapts the basic melody at a significantly slower tempo with acoustic guitars and keys caressing the soothing yet bleak vocals of Martin Walkyier. Violinist Georgina Biddle is giving an excellent performance in revising the main melodies in “Sins of Emission” and especially “Spinning Jenny”, where the cheerful folk/thrash character of the original version is turned into a mesmerizing dirge. Aside from the violin which is inherently one of Skyclad’s calling cards, the ritualistic percussion in the new version of “Alone in Death’s Shadow” is not only its main attraction but also a direct loan from similar practices undertaken in The Answering Machine?
. The subtraction of the electric guitar distortion and the implementation of slow – almost doom – pace for the new arrangements, gives vocalist Martin Walkyier more room so as to unfold his excellent lyrics, describing the world’s dismal status quo. Walkyier’s notorious proficiency with words and their multiple meaning is apparent even from the name of this EP, which cynically satirizes the success of the song adaptations overall.
As an epilogue, Outrageous Fourtunes
EP is a fantastic treat for long time Skyclad fans and an appropriate introduction for meet-and-greet with an act that legitimately pioneered the folk metal scene.