Skyclad: Martin Walkyier (vocals); Steve Ramsey (guitar); Graeme English (classical guitar, bass); Keith Baxter (drums, percussion).
Skyclad's ambitious attempt to combine thrash metal, English folk music, and medieval fantasy lyrics results in a groundbreaking -- though at times understandably awkward -- debut. Despite the album sleeve's picture of them wielding swords and clad in medieval garb, the band starts off tentatively, leading the way with the thrash-heavy "Sky Beneath My Feet" and "Trance Dance" before plunging into the album's "folkiest" moment, "The Widdershin's Jig." With it's violin-led arrangement, the song is a huge departure and, unfortunately, the band still lacks the confidence and conviction to see the experiment through. In fact, they only manage to let their guard down for the album's second half, which finally yields some great progressive thrash metal in "Cradle Will Fall," "Moongleam and Meadowsweet," and "Terminus." Misfires aside, Skyclad firmly declared their mission with this release, paving the way for their much more focused and satisfying sophomore effort. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia