Review Summary: A four track tidbit to appease the listener which is guaranteed to incite drunken hooliganism in green tight wearing sword bearers that play the flute more often than they should.
Give or take it’s been about five years since Swedish progressive, symphonic, blackened power metaller’s Skyfire actually introduced some new material so it came as quite a shock when they actually released something new amidst all the setbacks and band updates. Their fifth full length record Esoteric distributed through Florida based label Pivotal Rockordings is expected to be released soon but until then, Skyfire have provided a four track E.P titled Fractal for the metal community to sink their teeth into until Esoteric receives the green light.
For those new to the band, Skyfire are very similar to their Finnish cousins in Norther and Children Of Bodom. Combining blackened power metal with neo-classical shred, a few melodic death metal-ism’s, and symphonic metal, Skyfire managed to stand out amongst the two latter bands with a unique and theatrical keyboard approach akin to The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. Conjuring the grand majesty of Link cruising through Hyrule to save his broad Zelda from the unmistakable evil of Ganondorf, Skyfire have made a ten + year career out of finely utilizing pompous atmosphere and epic keyboard drenched melodies with aggressive heavy metal. Have all of the interruptions and setbacks from the past couple of years chipped enough away from Skyfire’s mighty core to where nothing remains but an empty shell? Stay tuned for the third paragraph where I will tell the mighty tale Skyfire: Fractal.
Opening track “Bereaved In Denial” blasts through the speakers with pounding riffage and blast beats amongst thrashy rhythms and ripping vocals courtesy of new vocalist Joakim Karlsson who awesomely enough is a Muay Thai kick boxer. The stylistic shift is considerably different as the keyboards no longer dominate the mix while the aggressive factor has been upped a notch. However, before one is comfortably situated with Skyfire’s new found aggression, the band returns to intricate piano melodies and soaring synthesizers with second song “The Transgressor Within. Much more melodic than the previous track albeit retaining spontaneous bursts of fury, Skyfire has returned to it’s former glorious self. Musically, Skyfire appears to have progressed in sound despite retaining their traditional identity. Guitar melodies are crisper than ever, the riffing is heavier, and the keyboard wizardry has transitioned from pompous level III to pompous level IIII. Thanks in part to the addition of the choir and orchestra to the third track “Esoteric”.
After a debatably rough start in “Bereaved In Denial” which lacked the catchiness and overbearingly triumphant atmosphere from slaying those irritating blobs of jelly, the band quickly pulled their instrumental skills together and created three epic, fist pumping anthems to momentarily hold the metal legions at bay. Fans of Skyfire, Norther, and Children Of Bodom will love this undoubtedly love this as will fans of World Of Warcraft, or any other adventurous third person role player for that matter. Climb upon Epona and equip yourself with the longshot and ocarina for you will ride…mightily into the sunset…..