Skyfire - _Timeless Departure_
(Hammerheart, 2001)
by: Adam Lineker (8 out of 10)
In traditional style, _Timeless Departure_ begins with a grandiose introduction that borders on the cinematic, featuring keyboard simulation of a large orchestra. It effectively sets the scene and builds expectation. It only hints at what is to come and it tantalises the listener with powerful keyboard layering, although it must be said that the string sound never convinces. Skyfire's music matches the style of the aforementioned intro; it is totally overblown power metal. Rasping black metal vocals introduce an element of aggression and the guitar sounds are equally harsh and shredding. Keyboards and guitars are layered in both rhythm and lead parts. Skyfire are also unafraid of hammering out great tutti breaks and runs at the appropriate moment. Such musical figures used in conjunction with complex time changes echo loudly of Dream Theater. The songs appear to be individual passages of explosive metal pomp pieced together and while this keeps the upbeat aggressive grandeur prominent, it is noticeable in parts that there are awkward joins. Bridge passages are scarce, replaced by momentary pauses between each section; it is as if the band were taking a breath. Again, although occasionally an effective touch, it mostly comes across as a compositional flaw. The thick layering of harmonies as melody results in the instruments seeming to meld into one entity rather than standing out prominently on their own, but I feel this adds to the musical style. Skyfire are both competent and progressive, but what truly shines from this album is the feeling of performance. If these guys could emulate this energy live, they would soon create a formidable legion of fans. Skyfire seem to have two speeds -- going for it and then some more. There are some cheesy melodies and chord progressions, but it is all performed with such enthusiasm that it becomes forgivable. All eight tracks are long and consistently strong in a metal way; as there are only eight songs, _Timeless Departure_ effectively avoids becoming boring. Without doubt, the stand out track is "Dimensions Unseen". It showcases everything that Skyfire are about, awash with driving riffs and layered melodics, rich harmonies and emotive key changes; it is all beautifully OTT. It is a shame that the other tracks are not as prominent. They all have the same mood and spirit but are so similar that a lot of the hooks and licks fail to stay in mind. On occasion the vocals are so raspy they appear to be totally disregarding the lyrics but it is not as if most power metal concepts are unpredictable (or make any sense). The sentiment is already captured. Power metal devotees will love this. This being their debut album, Skyfire can be commended for such a positive effort. Any band that is unafraid to create music like this deserves some measure of praise. When the final break crashes out, we are left with deafening silence; wanting more is almost unheard of with most power metal albums. But this is not most other albums. Skyfire beat the shit out of most pretentious metal that claims to be epic. There are some great metal moments on this album; admittedly, you couldn't really give these guys any credit for trying to modernise power metal but if you are going to play power metal, you might as well make it as much fun as this.

(article published 1/9/2002)

10/24/2009 M Dolson 7.5 Skyfire - Esoteric
5/5/2003 J Montague Ancient Rites / Thyrfing / Blood Red Throne / Skyfire Generation Armageddon Tour
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