On a recent episode of Banger TV they discussed the Top 10 or so “essential” Folk Metal albums and right off the bat decided that Skyclad’s first album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth to be the genre legend, meaning that this album was the one that started it all, and in this case, that would be Folk Metal. This caused a bit of controversy (nerds complaining on Twitter) and as much as I hate to fall in with the Twitter hordes, I’d have to agree that their second album A Burnt Offering from the Bone Idol is the bands first folk metal album. Arguably it might be the first folk metal album. There’s debate around Bathory but it seems to come down to splitting hairs between folk and viking metal. Regardless, Banger pick Skyclad, the metalverse disagreed on their album choice so I thought I’d feature it on the site because regardless of it’s place in metal history, it’s a fucking killer album, and yeah, it’s folk metal.
Now Banger was more discussing folk metal of what I like to call the theatrical type. Bands like Ensiferum, Tyr, Moonsorrow, Korpiklaani, Finntroll, and stuff that is more accessible, for lack of a better term. I won’t get into it about Folk metal like Windir or Ulver, or things of that more traditional nature. The more bombastic is what they were discussing and it’s clear from a listen to Burnt that Skyclad was way ahead of the crowd on that front. For the most part this album is sonically more in line with thrash or NWOBM, The vocals are a dirtier clean variety, sort of Manowar-ish, and there’s a steady NWOBHM gallop to the album. Where the heavy folk sound comes from is mostly the violins, which are extremely prevalent on the album. There’s also some keyboard elements they use to pump up the atmosphere and go for that “epic” sound. You’ll definitely feel the folk.
If you’re looking for that bombastic Folk Metal sound, this isn’t really there, but stop and think, this was out in 1992. This sound wasn’t overplayed to death and beat into the ground yet. This is one of the building blocks of that genre, for good or for bad, and in it’s more raw, transitional phase, it’s a fucking awesome presence.