Skyclad - Jonah's Ark
Noise Records
Folk Metal
11 songs (39:46)
Release year: 1993
Skyclad, Noise Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Skyclad’s third album was the first that could be praised without any doubt whatsoever. The band finally had reduced the Thrash elements to the point where they supported the Folk elements rather than overrode them, had developed their songwriting enough so that there was no filler, had put all the elements in place for the rest of their career, and many state Jonah’s Ark to be a classic for these reasons, not least the impact it would have as the first true Folk Metal album. From the catchy opener of Thinking Allowed? onwards, Fritha Jenkins’ mandolin as musically relevant as the Thrashy riffs, Jonah’s Ark is little short of excellent. Really, picking poor tracks is impossible, although on a first listen there may seem to be a few potentials: the melancholic Cry Of The Land, fiddle taking the lead and Walkyier proving his clean vocals are improving all the time, although it fits poorly between Thinking Allowed? and the groovy Schadenfreude, the latter having a strange danceability, being driven as much by bass as it is by the guitars, the mid-track Proggy breakdown a remarkable step forward for a band never afraid to experiment.

In many ways, Jonah’s Ark is as much of a shock for those following the band up until then as it is for newcomers. Moments like the percussive-driven opening to A Near Life Experience are far from the po-faced Speed Metal of before, pleasantly Jazzy fiddle/bass interplay driving the track onwards. I’m probably in a minority for preferring the fiddle-backed melody of Earth Mother, The Sun And The Furious Host to the guitar heroics of The Wickedest Man In The World, but both tracks are undeniably great. No doubt readers will excuse me too for preferring the shorter Bewilderbeast to the rather sprawling A Word To The Wise, but few will deny, as I find with earlier Skyclad, that the good songs, whilst good, aren’t anywhere near the excellence of their later work.

That’s not to say, of course, that the early stuff is poor, far from it. What impresses me often about Skyclad is the way that the music holds up years later. The band have always loved the pub-rock elements of their sound, but it’s interesting to note how much more obvious this became in the post-Walkyier years, his grittiness giving the band a perfect balance that was upset with his departure and made what was once a pleasantly working-class vibe into the whole raison-d’être of the band, something proved to be a mistake from the clear downturn in quality taken in after Walkyier left. Thankfully, however, Jonah’s Ark is still great; the first vital Skyclad album in their discography, even if later releases surpass it.

Killing Songs :
Thinking Allowed?, Schadenfreude, A Near Life Experience
Goat quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Skyclad that we have reviewed:
Skyclad - Vintage Whine reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
Skyclad - The Answer Machine reviewed by Goat and quoted 76 / 100
Skyclad - Oui Avant-Garde A Chance reviewed by Goat and quoted 58 / 100
Skyclad - Irrational Anthems reviewed by Goat and quoted 89 / 100
Skyclad - The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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