skiltronWhat a fantastic form of music Metal is! Come on – Tell me another form of music other than Metal where an Argentinian band can morph together a German band (Running Wild), a British band (Skyclad), a Finnish band (Finntroll) and an Italian band (Elvenking), come up with something already musically unique, then write their songs about Scottish folklore and have one of their lead instruments as bagpipes? It’s Metal, it could only be Metal – don’t ya just love it?

Well I do. And what’s not to love? Even if you’ve no interest in the bands listed above you have to admit it’s an intriguing prospect. There’s a bit of harpsichord in there too if that would swing it for you? I know there are some Metal fans out there that this band might just be their idea of purgatory, but personally I’m a sucker for a bit of optimistic, uplifting, powerful Folk Metal. To elaborate, on display here we have guitar (and bagpipe!) riffs that Running Wild would kill for, all the double-kick energy and power metal of Elvenking, the folk frivolity of Finntroll, combined with the bombast and melody of Skyclad. There’s also whoa-whoa bits, galloping rhythms, folk noodlings and catchy anthemic choruses for goodness sake – ‘The Taste Of Victory’ has all four together!!! This band are going from strength to strength – previous album “Into The Battleground” already elevated them into a higher division, but this one has managed to push them even further.

Like with the previous album, the Scottishness (or Britishness) of the band’s sound has once more been enhanced by a singer from the UK. This time it’s the recruitment of Martin McManus from the oh-so-nearly-Scotland-and-a-lot-nearer-than-Argentina South Shields. Like his predecessor he is note-perfect throughout and sings mostly in a mid-range clean style which should continue to broaden the bands appeal even further. But McManus is also in a Judas Priest tribute band and this Halford-esque tone shines through on more than one occasion. Never more so than on the fabulous ‘Sawney Bean Clan’, which manages to somehow combine Skyclad with Big Country and classic Judas Priest! It works really well – honest – and this mashing of styles and genres is prevalent throughout this attention grabbing release.

Everyone will have their favourite side to this band if they hear the whole album – many like myself will like almost all of it…I say almost because there is a bonus track which even if I switch the album off before it happens I still know it’s there, lurking. This Braveheart-laden hand-on-sporran type ballad ‘I’m Coming Home’ just doesn’t work for me. But hey, if all I can find to fault the album on is a dodgy bonus track then what’s the problem? And…AND…can I just say, on their upcoming 45 date European tour, where are Skiltron playing four dates in a week? Second only in gig numbers to Germany? SCOTLAND, that’s where! Culminating aptly in the Highland city of Inverness – Excellent! Seems like a bloody good excuse for a trip further up North to me…

(8.5/10 Andy Barker)