Translate Print. Inequality Street 2. The Wrong Song 3. Snake Charming 4.
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This is the first album they made after leaving Noise for lesser-known label Massacre. Like every other Skyclad record, I remember buying this one as soon as it came out rabid fan that I was. I also remember trying to train myself to like it. Deep inside, I knew how disappointing it was, even compared to their lacklustre album from the preceding year "The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea". My view has only hardened with time.
The band's line-up has been depleted. This version of Skyclad is a slimmer band with fewer ideas. The first three tracks are confusing. None of these songs really follow from each other.
This disunity and lack of identity sets the tone for everything that follows. The fourth track is "Penny Dreadful", a Skyclad classic, but for some reason it sounds sluggish in the context of this album I'll Skyclad irrational anthems later. Things get much worse from here on.
There is a boring instrumental "The Spiral Staircase"some nonsensical song about dictators in the pub "The Sinful Ensemble"and a pointless electrified version of the Khachaturian Sabre Dance. The final third of the album is the worst stretch on any Skyclad record. The production doesn't help. Objectively the sound is better than "The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea", but everything still sounds flat.
The fiddle doesn't cut through compare this with "Jonah's Ark", they are poles apart. Walkyier sounds muffled. He uses a softer, more plaintive vocal style more often than before. To be honest, he sounds tired and bored. The drums sound like tin cans.
The drumming is problematic overall. I loved what Keith Baxter brought to Skyclad with his muscular and varied style. The session drummer here brings an off-beat, jazzier, detached style. He is technically competent but a poor fit, shown in songs like "My Mother in Darkness" and "Snake Charming".
There is also a pseudo-Oriental feel to several of the tracks, which always sounds forced and opportunistic. Skyclad try a lot of different things here, but nothing works, and nothing sticks. Forget the substandard songs, the flat production and the lack of musical identity. There is a much bigger problem with "Irrational Anthems" which is more difficult to explain.
Everything sounds wrong. It has this gloomy, dreary, lifeless feel which isn't obvious until you've already listened to it too often. The music you hear sounds like an eerie imitation of Skyclad, some sort of malicious entity trying to ruin the band's name. I would liken it to an 'uncanny valley' effect, i.
This album sucks the life out of you and makes you feel dead inside. It leaves you with a cold sense of nothingness, whilst the real Skyclad would make you feel joyous and passionate. Slogging through fifty minutes of this is unbearable. Even "Penny Dreadful" sucks here because it is a vampire version of "Penny Dreadful". This means you can avoid "Irrational Anthems" like it was smallpox. Being the sixth Skyclad album, the fact that it's the first average one is no big deal.
The one that came before it, "The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea", was already filler-ridden, but the remaining material the good songs was really really cool. This album suffers the same fate, albeit with somewhat more fillers.
Some would say 'Clad had fillers on every album, but I beg to differ. The first four were top-notch without actual fillers, even if you liked some songs more than the others who doesn't, it's a perfectly normal thing to prefer. This band being one of my favorite bands has nothing to do with the amount of fillers, but with quality of the actually good material.
And in that department, Skyclad delivers with no competition. I have never heard of any other band delivering quality material with the force of a jackhammer, and yet having some abortions on every album past "Prince Of The Poverty Line" which prevent them from being on par with the first Skyclad irrational anthems.
Maybe Judas Priest though The album opens in maybe the silliest fashion you could imagine. Seriously, mrs. Biddle should get a fucking ton of recognition for her work with Skyclad, and I am not sure who penned that melody, whether it was Ramsey or her, but it's pure genius. But the first few seconds consists of Martin singing the chorus a-capella, which is a very, very strange and risky thing to do in this music genre. Partly because metal was always about music primarily, or maybe because you would need some true vocal skills to pull it off, but a-capella is not something commonly heard in metal.
This however, is the reason I worship Martin Walkyier as one of the greatest musicians I've heard of. Only him and this band of weirdos could pull it off. This is so good it needs to be heard. Of course, a Skyclad song is not a Skyclad song without the ever-charming lyrics pro-working class which I can't help but agree on: Here's a real beggars banquet, a brace of rats in a blood stained blanket.
Meanwhile gentlefolk high in their chateau, dip silver spoons into black forest gateau. Come lords and ladies - raise glasses in toast, to the "other-half" dying to eat. Seriously, fuck you politicians and fuck you rich garbage putting down the working class. Who the Skyclad irrational anthems would make the country up and running if not them? Of course, herein lies maybe the biggest reason I consider this album average. After a song like the opener, what could possibly top it?
Well, "Wrong Song" doesn't do the work, but it is a nice song. It has a large rocking vibe, and a great solo. And that's more or less it. The other songs which I haven't mentioned are pretty much fillers in one way or another. I will not specifically call them out like I usually do, but they aren't as good as these five.
Had this been an EP with these songs, it would've easily earn the rating of But as it is, they are still here and this album is still a full-length. Now, the filler songs aren't really bad, they just feel like a huge letdown. After a standard set by "Inequality Street", "Penny Dreadful" and the other three but those two primarilyit just feels dull. It's a good listen from time Skyclad irrational anthems time but I guarantee you won't be coming back to them as often as you will to the two champion tracks. If you want some more detailed description, I can say that for example, "Snake Charming" has a really drawn out chorus, and somewhat uninspired riff, while "Sinful Ensemble" tries to be a dark and brooding track but ends up like a plodding.
Also, "I Dubious" could be good, but nothing apart from the chorus is particularly memorable about it. For Skyclad standards, this is an average attempt, but five songs are worth both your time and money. The filler material isn't overtly bad, and you may even like some of those tracks more than I did.
In conclusion, it's probably the worst album by Skyclad. And it's worth sixty percent. Go figure.
Of course, it has its moments of brilliance. Maybe the comparison to its top-notch predecessor The Silent Whales of Lunar Sea is just too tempting, a comparison making it appear like little more than a weak sequel.
Still, something is lacking. If there are slow songs there is no genuine ballad, no predominantly acoustic track before the final one. Granted, there is this killer a capella opening leading to another of those immortal Skyclad anthems, Inequality Street.
Strong classic Skyclad, the usual mix of folk melodies with metal heaviness, great bitterly critical lyrics, and musical variety. Now how much would it cost to admit once and for all the other half is, at best sub par, at worst totally disposable? The Sinful Ensemble and Science Never Sleeps are completely unimaginative tracks Skyclad irrational anthems boasting incredibly flat vocal lines and riffs the guys must have thought they could improve by more or less awkwardly sticking a couple of extra instruments and orchestrations in the background.
You fool no one. Further, one can only thank Skyclad for featuring so few instrumental tracks amongst their otherwise well-furnished discography, given the overall quality of those. Coming to The Spiral Starecase I highly suspect Georgie Biddle to have suffered from a really bad hangover the day she recorded it, as never had her violin lines sounded so tired, repetitive and sleep-inducing.
But wait, they just have left the worst of the worst for the end, the splendid five-minutes-long piece of jelly called Quantity Time.
Album: "irrational anthems" ()
It must have been the whole band, vocalist included, which suffered from a hell of a hangover that time, unless they mistakenly recorded the track at half its initial tempo, who knows. Skyclad, then at the top of their productivity boost — and the Gods know for this band this means a lot — released two albums in that year One of my favourite albums since it holds a few Skyclad irrational anthems my favorite Skyclad songs.
These four songs alone are reason enough already to get this album if you like folkrock and folkmetal. Not at all. These four however are by far the best. However, because not all songs share the same level of quality, I must be honest in my judgement. I've been a Skyclad fan for some good few years now, and after hearing near enough everything including the Clan Destined demo, which had Walkrier on vocals I have to say this is definately their most greatest offering.