The UK has a great amount of talent in the traditional metal field; we may all have heralded the achievements of the likes of Toledo Steel, Seven Sisters, Amulet, Dark Forest and many others. Skyryder are local (to me!) lads from the North East. I was well aware of their material when they released Vol 1 independently (later picked up for re-release by High Roller Records), however, the first time I witnessed them live with Visigoth and Bewitcher, I was amazed. This brought a different dimension to their material and in my mind made them the band of the evening coupled with humour and confidence.

So, Vol 2, this offers a continuation of their style, the songs are further developed and written in a strong manner. There is a cool balance of typical NWoTHM and power metal. Singer Luke is very talented and will be sorely missed, but the rest of the band are very tight also. The solos and riffs maintain momentum, phrasing, and keep you entertained.

The lead promo track ‘Midnight Ryder’ is special. Its vibrant, involving and fist raising. The spirit of old is presented with their own charm and youthful freshness. I am a real sucker for galloping guitar passages, hell yeah, we’ve got it here. The solo, well, this is a blizzard of excitement and the melodic work in the centre of it just encapsulates you even further. Dare I say as much as I was blown away by Dragonforce’s debut, I know, it’s completely different musical style, but the point I’m trying to get across is the joy and surprise I am getting from home grown talent is very magical.

‘Mistress of Darkness’ starts in a very rich and warm way. The light delicate fretwork builds up and thus explodes with a British metal sound reminiscent of the NWoBHM scene. The solos, they’ll take you to some wondrous places, I am sure. I like once again, the utilisation of the twin guitars. Opener ‘Virtual Humanity’ has some folk inspiration, although you can also hear big 80’s rock band in there too prior to the singing. Then you get the burst of metal with the staccato palm muted approach. Again, Skyryder have encapsulated melody in the music. The vocal is harsher than the remainder of the EP, but that very fitting. Then there’s what you might call extreme power metal riffing before the next section.

Closing with the fast paced “Take the Night” it’s clear there’s a good thing happening. The really enjoy the riffing during the chorus with the twin guitars doing different things. At the end of the first chorus, that short brief guitar lick at the end, this is very enjoyable. One the second round we lead into the guitar solo. The blend and the arrangement is killer. Then what is this – there is a real quiet period of acoustic work showing an emotive quality to the recording. Whilst many may figure there is a Maiden sounding riff after this, well, the formula really works. On this track, the interludes and changes to the main melody are key. The band don’t produce typical radio hits either, clocking in at some respectful running times are a fair amount of light and shade long with the pure power of heavy metaaaaal!

The UK has some amazing talent in this field, Skyryder are genuine shining lights. Their music is uplifting, exciting and very “metal”. I am sure they will tread a path overseas like many of their peers, its well-deserved too, they are pretty special and with the label support will be able to get their music out to a wider audience. Basically, “Vol 2” – buy it – it’s a grand piece with work and also don’t forget about “Vol 1”.

(8.5/10 Paul Maddison)