Skyclad (1990-present): a Folk Metal band from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
kyclad is a rare breed of folk. Former Sabbat (UK) vocalist Martin Walkyier founded this thrash metal crossover act that would become one of the first in the folk metal genre in 1990 when he left the former outfit over an argument with guitarist Andy Sneap as to the direction of the music, and teamed up with Steve Ramsey (ex-Pariah/ex-Satan/ex-Blind Fury; guitar/backing vocals). When Graeme English ((ex-Pariah (UK), Satan, Blind Fury); bass/backing vocals) and Keith Baxter (drums) joined on, the set was completed and they soon after signed onto the European indie label 'Noise'. But Skyclad was an act who has boasted many line-up changes over the past decade so hindsight wrote that the cozy friendship wasn't to last.
The debut, Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth (1991), united pagan lyrics, the electric violins of Fritha Jenkins, (who joined after Skyclad's tour with Overkill) with a thrash metal beat that offered a nice alternative to the rule of the day. The follow-up albums with Dave Pugh (guitar), A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol (1992), Tracks From The Wilderness EP (1992), Jonah's Arc (1993), Thinking Allowed EP (1993) and Prince Of The Poverty Line (1994) fell in-line with their basic construct but focused more on the folk then the thrash. This plan, however, proved to serve no purpose other then to alienate their original fans.
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The late 1990s saw Skyclad receive plenty of college airplay with The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea (1995) featuring Catherine Howell taking over on violin, to be followed-up quickly by the Irrational Anthems (1996) release and Paul Smith taking over drums. After the Old Rope "best of..." compilation (1996), they moved on to the Oui Avant-Garde á Chance (1996) to enlist a new violinist by the name of George Biddle, and use session drummer drummer Paul Atkinson. Due to thre lack of violinist and drummer, the act was unable to perform live with the exception of a few shows, specifically replacing Tiamat on the Black Sabbath Forbidden UK tour in 1995.
A move to the 'Massacre' label with The Answer Machine? (1997). Vintage Whine (1999) saw Skyclad continue with its folk inspired music and intelligent thought provoking lyrics. Under the refined line-up adding Kevin Ridley (lead vocals/guitar) and Jay Graham (drums), the very title of this (and many of their albums for that matter) begged the listener to hear all about the pun plagued titles, tales which continued unabated on the Folkémon (2000) album. Their previous "best of..." compilation was finally followed up on with History Lessens (2001).
Due to Walkyier's dislike of recent decisions by the band on the act's refusal to tour South America, as well as financial and management issues, he left in 2001 to form a very Sabbat-esq operation called Return To The Sabbat. His last recording with Skyclad was the all-live set recorded some time before titled Another Fine Mess (Live '95) (2001); he was replaced full time by Kevin Ridley, with Aaron Walton taking over drums from the departing Jed Dawkins, recruited for the interim with Sword Of A Thousand Men (2001) following. No Daylights ... Nor Heel Taps (2002), featuring studio recordings of "Irish Pub versions" of Skyclad classics, saw the departure of Day and Dawkens to make room for the returning Jay Graham and then Arron Walton on drums.
After some unpleasantness between Walkyier and the other band members over copyrights and royalties for his lyrics, as well as the release of tracks featuring him, 2004's A Semblance of Normality marked the band's first new material post-Walkyier. Its style is very much in the vein of previous releases, with Ridley's lyrics making an obvious effort to follow similar themes and styles to Walkyier's whilst retaining an individual identity. The album would become one of the most widely received of Skyclad's releases, probably due to better distribution and word-of-mouth advertising. The album also received critical acclaim, especially in the English-speaking world, where, ironically (given the use of inventive wordplay in their titles and lyrics, much of it aimed at native English speakers), the band is almost unknown. However, in South America and mainland Europe they have been extremely popular for many years, especially in Germany and Greece.
Skyclad self-released an EP, Jig-a-Jig, in 2006. A new album had been planned for the same year but their label, 'Black Lotus Records', went out of business just a few months after Skyclad had signed to it.
The band's next studio album, In the... All Together was released in spring 2009 via 'Scarlet Records'.
In June 2012, Walkyier announced that his new band, Martin Walkyier's Skyclad would be headlining a festival in Nottingham, England in September 2012.
Forward into the Past (2017) would arrive via 'Listenable Records' to feature guitarist Dave Pugh, who returned in 2014.
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