Prince of Poverty Line (Noise)
by Scott Hefflon
Combining mean-sounding guitars, shredding solos, creative usages of keyboards and sound effects, and bold, non-gratuitous violin accompaniment, Skyclad is progressive heavy metal at its finest. Former Sabbath vocalist Martin Walkyier has a tough, versatile voice which complements the anthemic powerchords as they march along. While drummer Keith Baxter spends much of his time merely setting a comfortable, mid-tempo pace for the show-off leads, he occasionally gets a little space to express himself with clever fills. Guitars, bass and violin are all given ample opportunity to lay down rich atmosphere as well as to spiral and cascade through impressive riffs and solos. As progressive metal often does, Skyclad’s fourth release (first stateside), Prince of the Poverty Line, delves into topics of swordfighting heros, evil wizards, and assorted magical locales. But this release marks a large step in the direction of realism. As you might guess from the title, the angle is stark and filled with frustration. In all, an epic metal album brimming with well-crafted songs.