by Jeff Penczak
If I was writing for some smartass ‘mersh rag that limited its critics to pithy 20 word witticisms, this one would go something like: Ever wonder what happened to The Fields of The Nephalim? Well, fret no more. It’s my pleasure to announce they’re alive and well, and have been hiding out in Minneapolis going under the name Skye Klad.
But since we’re above such candyassed comments, we’ll proceed with the insightful vivisection you’ve come to know and hate.
From the opening buzzsaw of the grungy-with-an-attitude “Reign Song,” the Minneapolis quartet let it be known that their debut slugfest was no flash in the pan. The in-your-face vocal snarl of guitarist Jason Kesselring on “Sunwheel” sounds like a shouting match between Trent Reznor and Al Jourgenson, although I do think there’s an Echo & The Bunnymen riff trying to break out, while the descending riffage of “Little Nemo” may be a tip of the dome to the eponymous Black Sabbath track and Kesselring’s how-low-can-you-go utterings will have you reaching for your old Fields of the Nephalim albums to compare whose basso is more profundo.
The gentle (!) stringpluckings of “Meechmit” provide a welcome, albeit short respite from the proceedings and then it’s back to Kesselring’s Industrial Batcave yelpings on the black metalic 80s sheen of heavy metal wannabes The Cult on “Evening Star” – I can swear I hear the riff from “Rain” peeking out from behind the Marshall stacks.
“Skye Boat” floats across the fields of the Nephalim in search of the lost power chord, which they put to good use on “As It Is So Be It” and “Lethe,” which might actually be radio friendly enough to be a hit!!
I used the phrase “gothic death metal” to describe their debut and the term is still applicable here. If you pull out your records by Bauhaus, Joy Division, Love & Rockets, Test Dept. or any of the aforementioned acts and play them back to back with your favorite Nordic deathmetal compilation, you’ll have established the perfect sonic ambience for this firebreathing, flesheating, phonic feast and the fact that Skye Klad was able to condense a dozen records into just one is a testament to their ability to feeze dry the excitement and vicarious thrills of the dark underbelly of rock’s demon seed while avoiding the pratfalls and bottomless pits of this oft-maligned and seldom appreciated sub-sub-sub-cellar of the netherlands of rock and roll.
Note: Jeff is the host of the “No Soap, Radio” show every Monday evening rom 8-11PM (eastern US time) via the live RealAudio internet feed over WNTI-FM, 91.9 in Hackettstown, NJ, USA. Also check out his website.