Skyclad

Folkemon

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Though it's hard to take a band like Skyclad, already known for a wide berth of humor, seriously when the group names its tenth album Folkemon, the title actually conceals vocalist/lyricist Martin Walkyier's penchant for highly animated and thought-provoking (albeit disjointedly thought-provoking) lyrics. The interesting thing is how quickly Walkyier shifts gears back and forth between the impassioned and the absurd, loudly swinging on the vines through everything from the bawdy jesting of old English folk tales to angry political waxing that would make Dave Mustaine proud; in fact, the transition between the hard-biting caustic spite of "Think Back and Lie of England" and the double entendre-laden minstrelsy of "Polkageist!" (complete with such randy lyrics as "she took my hand and led me to that place where cunning lingers") is seamless, and at first, almost goes unnoticed. Still, one is never quite sure whether the band means to be serious or just seriously goofy, and perhaps that's part of the charm of Skyclad; with song titles like "When God Logs Off" and "Déjà Vu Ain't What It Used to Be," one would assume that the band must only be clowning around, but everything is played with such intensity and conviction that it really is impossible to decide either way. But even if Walkyier's pub-shouted, ale-soaked musings aren't to your liking, the music to be found here, with its exceptionally melodic sweep and throttle, is alone worth the price of admission. The band sounds like some awkwardly beautiful hybrid offspring of Metallica and a local Saturday night tavern gathering of Celtic folk musicians, and the songs themselves runneth wildly over with memorable, fist-pumping riffs that strike gold against the interplay of the various instruments (Steve Ramsey's majestic, Hammett-esque lead work in particular). Really, in the end, there is just so much to like about Folkemon that, ridiculous or not, it definitely stands up to the test and, when given the chance, truthfully makes for one great listen.

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