Etikett: power metal

Skeletoon – They Never Say Die

Album: They Never Say Die
Artist: Skeletoon
Label: Scarlet Records
Released: March 8th, 2019
Tracks: 11

1. Hell-O
2. Hoist Our Colors
3. The Truffle Shuffle Army: Bizardly Bizarre
4. To Leave A Land
5. They Never Say Die
6. Last Chance
7. I Have The Key
8. The Chain Master
9. When Legends Turn Real
10. Farewell (Avantasia cover)
11. Goonies R Good Enough (Cyndi Lauper cover)

You can always count on the Italians to deliver the goods when it comes to power metal. Regardless if you prefer the bombastic and symphonic variety (Rhapsody of Fire, Ancient Bards), the more traditional, slightly progressive kind (Labyrinth, Vision Divine) or the balls to the wall straight up power metal bands (Derdian, Kaledon), there’s something for everyone.

And then there’s Skeletoon.

Standing firmly in the melodic power metal camp, these guys deliver their third album They Never Say Die, following on 2016’s The Curse of the Avenger and 2017’s Ticking Clock. They Never Say Die is a concept album, or a tribute if you will, to classic 80’s cult movie The Goonies. It’s apparent from the get go that the band are huge fans. You don’t need to have seen the movie to enjoy the album, but it certainly helps you get all the references.

Musically though, as stated, we’re in firm European melodic power metal territory. Basically every chorus is catchy as hell and made to sing along with. There’s a mix of faster and (slightly) slower tracks on the album, and it feels very balanced in that way. After a short and somewhat menacing spoken intro the band kicks into high speed antics with the opening track ”Hell-O”. Following on that song we have the slower, more mid-tempo rocker ”Hoist Our Colors”. It’s somewhat darker, which makes it an excellent counterpoint to the happy opening tune. Then comes the glorious, the joyous ”The Truffle Shuffle Army: Bizardly Bizarre” which, apart from getting the song title of the year award also delivers one of the most anthemic, happy and catchy choruses I’ve heard in a long time. Not only is this song a power metal masterpiece; it also features a guest appearance by Alessandro Conti (Trick or Treat, Twilight Force). What more could you ask for?

After ballad ”To Leave A Land” we have another glorious tune, namely the title track. The band shot a video for this one, and it was a great song to select for that endeavor. The chorus is yet again catchy as hell, and towards the end of the song the vocal lines turn really anthemic. I wish they’d extended that section of the song further, but as it stands, it’s still a cracker.

Conti isn’t the only vocalist guesting on the album. On mid-pace rocker ”Last Chance” you get to hear Michele Luppi flex his vocal chords, which he does very well. Morby from Domine sings on ”I Have The Key”, another high-speed scorcher that ups the ante even more when it comes to happy refrains. I realize I haven’t even mentioned the band’s charismatic frontman Tomi Fooler. My mistake. The falsettos he’s capable of are unreal, some of which he delivers on the aforementioned track. The album features more guest vocals. Rounding off the record are two cover songs, one being Avantasia’s ”Farewell”, a duet with Melissa Bonny and a take on Cyndi Lauper’s ”Goonies R Good Enough” with Giacomo Voli (Rhapsody of Fire).

All in all, this is a no-brainer for fans of (European) melodic power metal, and a high contender for inclusion in later year’s best lists. You probably won’t find bands as eager to cheer you up and put a smile on your face as Skeletoon. Highly recommended.

Shadows Past – Perfect Chapter

Band: Shadows Past
Album: Perfect Chapter
Label: Doolittle Records
Release date: March 29th, 2013
Genre: Heavy/power metal

Although Shadows Past from Stockholm, Sweden was officially formed in 2005, prior to that, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ola Halén (ex-INSANIA) had been working on songs in his home studio for several years. Some of those songs would later end up as Shadows Past material, most famously perhaps Cry No More, which has become a sort of band anthem. The core of the band has always consisted of Ola and guitarist Jonatan Berg, and although several members have occupied the remaining positions, the line-up has now been solid for quite some time. Rounding out the ranks are Patrik Berg (bass, Jonatan’s brother) and brothers Staffan and Olle Lindroth (keyboards and drums respectively). With two demos as a  band under the belt, the band went into the studio to record a full-length and managed, at the end of 2012, to secure a record deal with Doolittle Group. And presto! Here we are, ready to immerse ourselves in the a Perfect Chapter of this merry metal book.

First things first for those who feel the need to pigeonhole musicians: These guys play heavy/power metal with some progressive touches. This is a very vague description, however, as there is more to the compositions of these guys than that. There is a solid foundation of riffs and a tight rhythm section, so the sound never gets wussy. Melody and catchiness are the main courses in this feast though. These guys pen catchy tunes like there is no tomorrow, and it is obvious they recognize and believe in a chorus when they see it. Thus, every song has a hook; some only take longer to develop, but rest assured they will all get to you. Most of the tunes were penned by Ola, but there is also a song written exclusively by Jonatan (Ladder of Life) and the opener (and what an opener! Very wisely put first) Wherever I Go was written by Staffan. This song is the epitome of what these guys are all about: A brooding verse section followed by an anthemic chorus to tear your face off. For more of that, do check out Who Am I and Impressed, the latter of which is power metal in the old-school Helloween way, and that is a compliment. As an added bonus, there is a section within the song that features the chorus to another song (which may or may not get re-recorded at a later time) that stems from Ola’s demo days. It’s just a snippet, but it is a very cool thing to do.


With these guys, it’s the small things I admire. Some songs feature growling by Ola, but it is done very sparingly and in a tasteful way, which adds to the dynamics. The end of opener Wherever I Go features lyrics sung in Swedish, which are never repeated. Things like that. Very unpredictable and therefore original. Also, there is none of that predictability concerning song order that is so prevalent among albums by many power metal bands, i.e. you have a fast opener, a mid-tempo, another mid-tempo, a ballad, a fast song etc. Nope. These songs feature slow and fast sections, grinding and melodic parts, lamenting croons and soaring choruses all within the same song. Did I mention dynamics?

Of course I am biased. I have followed these guys for a while. I like the genre they play, I like the songs they write and I like the fact that they are passionate about what they do. The playing is top notch, the production is pristine and the concept of the cover art and lyrics feels rather fresh. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself, though. Sure, there will always be minor gripes; sections of songs I liked better in the demo versions and the likes, and songs that were left out of the album entirely. But I have to review what is there, not what isn’t, right?

To sum it up: A vibrant and fresh debut album. Bombastically beautiful at times, headbangingly heavy at times, but always energetic and always relevant. Do give these guys a chance.