Friday, 15 January 2010

Skady - Eyn Raunen Im Tannicht. 82/100.

Folk metal can draw fear from the very best of us. Subtle hints of the genre are fine, in my eyes, but when I am faced with an overbearing, criminally upbeat folk band, I can often lose my composure and be forced into weeks of therapy to overcome the unfortunate incident. If you take the time to take a quick peak out of the window, you’ll see scores of calm, collected and composed men, and women, fleeing the scene where the heinous crime took place. A area normally reserved for the very best downbeat metal can be transformed within seconds of hearing a supposedly charming, exuberant and fun folk metal band. When it comes to my own personal tastes, the more depraved, the better. I’m not a fan of the “fun” metal genres. There is another side to folk bands and associated hybrid genres like black and folk. As with this German band, Skady, the folk influences are far more subtle than the black influences and thus, the band eliminate the possibility of sounding sickeningly chirpy, like some sort of radio friendly happy hardcore hogwash for the mainstream consumer.

The feeling that Skady are looking to break the barriers down and move away from being seen as a stereotypical folk band are felt immediately with the introduction to this record, entitled ‘Einklang’, which takes an unusual look of the nature of things with the slaughter of a squealing pig. The sickening squeals reverberate around the dense atmosphere and have haunted me even after the record has ended. I’m not entirely sure what significance this introduction has upon the rest of the record, if any, but it certainly does wipe away any evidence that suggested Skady are a typical, happy-go-lucky folk band with no redeeming qualities. There are infectious elements to Skady’s play, believe it or not. Given the samples used on the introduction, which are disturbing and make me feel somewhat on edge, I had a feeling this record would lack that contagious vibe that sets folk apart from most other extreme metal genres, if it can be called that. Songs like ‘Der Mühe Lohn’ are easily the most folk inspired songs, which evoke images of Pagan rituals and merry dances to the spirits of nature, two themes which consistently rear their heads up throughout the duration of the record, as shown accordingly, and splendidly, in songs like ‘Furor Teutonicus’ which, in a way, reminds me of Slavonic bands like Nokturnal Mortum as they use ancient battle samples over the top of cleaner vocals.

Songs like the aforementioned move away from the harsher aspects of the record by incorporating entirely clean elements like sullen wind instruments, or dazzling acoustics and weird folkish instruments drawing them all together in harmony. However, these short breaks from the harsher material are not where the best elements reside. In fact, I treat these songs as a retreat, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the “regular” songs, where repetitious, fast tempos and typically styled black metal elements roam free like spirits in the night, weaving their way through dense forestry and being at one with nature. There are components of Skady’s sound which reminds me of Norwegian Viking metal band Galar, particularly in the movement of the free flowing bass lines and the vocals, performed entirely by Andras, a less than standardised vocalist in the grand scheme of things. I imagine, if you’re a fan of Galar, you’ll also find some delight in this band. Both tend to operate in the same manner, placing clean and harsh aspects side-by-side, with demonic low growls over the top of the action packed, fast instrumentation.

However, Andras does not alter his voice much throughout most songs, unless a particular folksy song comes into the fray. The two genres are kept mostly apart, which I found odd. Most bands of this type tend to blend the two together, but there is a feeling that, actually, Skady get the most out of the two genres simply by segregating them more so often than not. This ploy certainly helps distinguish the bass in the midst of the fast and slow sections. The bass is possibly my favourite element of the record with Antis doing a tremendous job at making himself heard over more established elements in this hybrid, like the guitars and vocals. He has a tendency to switch between a repetitive style, to the more delightful catchy style where he has permission to perform with an ounce of creativity. However, even when performing repetitious sections, he still outshines most over elements, as on songs like ‘Aus Wäldern’, a particularly Galar like song. I must say, I’m really impressed with this first effort from a largely unknown band. It certainly points to a positive conclusion for the band, hopefully suggesting they will be around for some time, perhaps improving along the arduous journey towards underground success.

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