Skiltron – Beheading the Liars

Skiltron – Beheading the Liars – 4/5

So my musical voyage of discovery finds me listening to yet another band id previously not heard of, but am pleasantly glad to have stumbled upon them. Their sound seems like a wonderful hybrid of various folk bands, though it should be noted there is a heavily power influence here too.

Firstly, I should note im not a fan of the “folk” metal bands that incorporate no folk instruments in their music (Finntroll, Ensiferum, etc). Proudly I can state that this band boasts the use of bagpipes, tin pipes and a violin in addition to the guitar solo’s and everything else you’d expect. All in all, the band has seemed to combine the catchy ‘riffs’ from Eluveitie’s use of the hurdy-gurdy and violin and used bagpipes and tin pipes to reproduce a similar effect, they often have a similar tone to Skyclad, whilst soloing and singing like Elvenking, yet despite this somehow retain a sense of individuality. For one thing, they take influence from Scottish folk (which is rather odd seeing as its an Argentinian band), as opposed to Eluveitie’s Celtic Folk or Korpiklaani’s Finnish Folk, lending not only a theme (Scottish war of Independence) but also a distinct twist within this rapidly expanding genre.

The drumming and bass guitar is fairly inaudible, and adds nothing spectacular to the music beyond a framework to build upon. But build upon this it does. They don’t use the folk instruments in a gimmicky way – with a guest violin player, and a permanent bagpipe player and tin pipe player, not to mention the use of the mandolin in places, they consistently produce material which makes you wonder if you should bang your head or do a folk jig – as all folk metal should in my opinion.

It doesn’t take long from the start of the album to discover what you should expect. With a slow melodic start with the vocalist speaking over a simple mandolin riff, before kicking off into a harmony between the bagpipes and a chord based guitar riff, this is a great opening to the track which ends up being one of the stronger tracks present. The vocals – unusually for power metal – take much of a backseat to allow alternating bagpipe and guitar solo’s (who else would think a bagpipe solo would ever happen?). This trend if anything improves the result, as there is plenty in the way of sounds present on the album, and this allows for a tremendous variety of songs that could be produced.

And largely, this succeeds in doing just that, but this also results in some tracks being fairly sub-par. “Calling out” is a perfect example of just that. Here much of the instruments that were used have been removed for the ballad, and a heavily vocally orientated track. The vocalist is able to carry it remarkably well, but it simply sounds unoriginal. Luckily, this is quickly offset by “The vision of blind Hary” with a great epic feel to it, bagpipes abound and plenty of instrumental bits in between the emotional vocals, and a tremendous pan pipe/guitar solo, only to be followed up by “Hate Dance.” An instrumental track full of catchy riffs, and even more tin pipe/guitar solo work.

This is an album people seem to have missed amidst the Eluveitie and Turisas fan worship. They manage to do something new whilst retaining a unique epic feel to it. Highly recommended to those who enjoy their metal with a side order of Folk.

Highlights: Fast and Wild, The vision of blind Hary, Hate Dance

By T. Bawden