Skyclad - The Answer Machine
Massacre Records
Folk Rock
13 songs (53:42)
Release year: 1997
Skyclad, Massacre Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Completing the move towards a laid-back sound that was started a couple of albums prior, The Answer Machine is possibly Skyclad’s calmest and most melancholic album. It’s barely Metal at all, but carefully considered Folk Rock driven by the melodies which are mostly created by acoustic guitars and violin, and although considered by many fans to be near the bottom of the Skyclad pantheon it’s actually a damn good listen if you forget your expectations and allow the band to do their thing. Walkyier is the most obvious element present, of course, but his voice is anything but harsh – he’s proved on prior releases that he has a great singing voice, and here he’s distinctly brilliant, moments like the calm interlude in Worn Out Sole To Hell (leading into a pretty fiddle solo) proving his talents. The band backing him are smooth and professional; there’s nothing that can be said against them, and the songwriting is excellent if you allow the music to wash over you – it’s progressive in a gentle sort of way, and you certainly shouldn’t expect an album full of catchy singles.

Being honest, a fair few songs can sound rather samey the first couple of listens, but even then standouts like the Eastern-tinged percussion-driven The Thread Of Evermore keep your attention. With time, it reveals itself to be a well-crafted album, moving between emotions smoothly; Isle Of Jura’s weepy romance switching to Fainting By Numbers’ harder-rocking bolshiness, for instance. By far the majority of songs are melancholic, however, the relatively aggressive Building A Ruin and the Thrash-touched Eirenarch some of the few exceptions. Skyclad being Skyclad, of course, the melancholy is bittersweet and laced with sarcastic humour in that peculiar way we British always seem to manage – how else to explain the presence of the amusingly sex-themed My Naked I, full of double-entendres? Skyclad are the quintessential British band in many ways; as with other albums, you could almost call this a loose concept album, as throughout it has that unique knowing air which pervades their work, giving the listen a warm, grandparent-y tone.

The Answer Machine is the kind of album that you listen to until you know it and then are drawn back to, like a fine malt whiskey kept for a special occasion. Skyclad proved time and time again that they were more than a ‘pub rock’ band over their career, that they did more than make music for parties as many Folk-touched bands these days seem to think of themselves, and The Answer Machine is an album for those that love music alone as much as they do when sharing it with other people. If certain Skyclad albums are to be listened to accompanied by a mug of ale and a party atmosphere, then The Answer Machine is for when everyone’s gone home, when you can sit quietly and appreciate the subtle stories being told with the sweet traditional melodies. Although they’d return to heaviness on 1999’s Vintage Whine, Skyclad produced something special here that all too often is lost in the crowd when looking back over their discography. Fans will know exactly what I mean, and can add ten to the score; those in search of heavier Skyclad should deduct ten and look elsewhere.

Killing Songs :
Building A Ruin, Single Phial, The Thread Of Evermore, Isle Of Jura, Fainting By Numbers, My Naked I
Goat quoted 76 / 100
Other albums by Skyclad that we have reviewed:
Skyclad - Vintage Whine reviewed by Goat and quoted 86 / 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
Skyclad - In The... All Together reviewed by Elias and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 12 reviews click here
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