Skylark - Fairytales
Scarlet Records
Cheesy Epic Metal
8 songs (57:52)
Release year: 2005
Skylark, Scarlet Records
Reviewed by Ian

I have been listening to Skylark from 1997 and the band’s debut album Dragon’s Secrets still retain the title of Best-Album-With-Worst-Production in my book. Introducing the keyboard extraordinaire Eddy Antonini, the album was an excellent display of symphonic, keyboard driven speed metal with good orchestral arrangements and catchy atmosphere. Of course, the production flaws, the sub-par sound and the not-so-brilliant singer took most of the magic away, but the potential of the band was clear and I had the highest hopes for them in becoming one of the leaders of the Italian metal scene. Since then, I have listened to most of Skylark’s albums (including the 1998 Eddy Antonini’s solo album When Water Became Ice which was a more –if that’s possible – keyboard oriented Skylark) and one thing became clear to me: the more the production quality improved, the more the music quality decreased. So, after Part 1 and 2 of Divine Gates albums (1999 & 2000) I lost sight of Mr. Antonini whom I considered at first the next André Andersen (Royal Hunt) talent-wise. The Wings album issued in 2004 failed to attract my attention so after 4 years a new Skylark album showed up in my player.

After such a long time I was really curious to see what was the band progression and I was really hoping for an improvement from their downtrend. The style of the band has changed from the aforementioned powerful and rich symphonic sound into an almost pop orchestrated sound with some insignificant guitar parts, and overwhelming keyboards-piano-harpsichord leads, rhythms, hooks and just about everything else. Those of you that have read my previous reviews know by now how much I enjoy a good keyboard lead or a dual guitar/keyboard attack. Unfortunately, Antonini’s personality (and instrument) overshadows almost everything and doesn’t allow any room for the rest of the musicians to take the lead. This extensive use of keyboards and especially harpsichord should give an epic sound to the music but it just manages to push the music away from the epic/bombastic sound into a kind of orchestral pop or an unhappy shadow of a true power/symphonic sound. Actually, the only time that I can really hear the guitar taking the lead is during the clean solos on tracks A Rose In Her Hand and Lions Are The World (with good hooks but slightly repetitive).

I said before that I wasn’t really impressed with the lead vocalist Fabio Dozzo. Although a good singer, with clean and emotional voice, his accent and his limited range couldn’t match the epic style of the early Skylark. Since I never listened to the 2004 Wings album, it was for the first time that I got to meet (listen to) the new addition to the band, the female vocalist Kiara. Again, I must say that I am a great fan of feminine voices mixed with the rough and powerful metallic sounds. Unfortunately, I can’t event begin to understand what prompted this move, the fact that Kiara was selected as a model (perfume) for Givenchy has absolutely no bearing on the fact that she became the lead singer of this band: her voice is at best OK during the softer passages, reminiscent of Lisa Middelhauve (Xandria front woman) or even the beautiful Tracy Hitchings (Strangers On A Train, Landmarq) at times, but the moment she tries to come off as a soprano or even a high note singer, everything just goes down the drain and just makes me wanna break the goddamn CD. There’s no surprise that her best performance is on the cover version of Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow (another piece killed by the keyboard solo trying to mimic the godly guitar lead).

The production of the album is yet again built around the keyboard sound, pushed forward, with the rhythm section taking most of the damage, the drums being relegated somewhere in the background, with a muffled sound and the bass lines almost inexistent. There’s a point midway Little Red Riding Hood where we’re presented with a bass solo backed with drums/keyboards where I ACTUALLY can’t hear it!

Despite all the flaws presented before, the album has its moments. The last two tracks with Fabio Dozzo leading on vocals are quite good. Little Red Riding Hood is an 18-minute epic with good complex composition, fast paced, good guitar solos and passable (very short) soprano lines. A reminiscent of the great complex compositions of the early years. Love, the last track on the album is a slow starting piece, with Dozzo’s quiet and emotional voice backed by clean piano licks ending with a full forced rhythmic passage of guitar/keyboard work.

You can say from the review how disappointed I am in this album. Thinking about that, I must admit that if this record were released by another unknown band as a debut, I might have focused more on the good points trying to encourage (the band) to move forward with their musical career. Since this is Skylark’s sixth or seventh album, it’s impossible for me to keep encouraging and keep waiting for a few more years for yet another album with the same flaws as its predecessors. Fans of epic power melodic metal, approach this cautiously.
Killing Songs :
Light - unfortunately, this song is not on this album
Ian quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Skylark that we have reviewed:
Skylark - Wings reviewed by Jay and quoted 58 / 100
Skylark - The Princess' Day reviewed by Marty and quoted 79 / 100
Skylark - Gate Of Heaven reviewed by Chris and quoted 79 / 100
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