Opening proceedings at midday on day two of a metal festival is an unenviable task but Skyryder stood up to the task incredibly well at BroFest #6. They had a room full of hungover metal fans rocking out in Newcastle, UK, in February and that is where I first encountered the band.
Read about my Top 5 bands of BroFest #6 here and suffice it to say their enthusiasm, fun, and spirit were a joy to behold.
So the question is, can the same enthusiasm be found on their latest EP? Well, without spoiling the next few hundred words, the answer is yes.
Imaginatively titled Vol 2 following on from, er, Vol 1, the EP is released March 27, 2020, on High Roller Records.
Skyryder are the standard-bearers of the latest crop of New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands alongside such luminaries as Seven Sisters. Based in the northeast of England the band consists of four northerners, Adam Thorpe (guitar) Luke Williams (bass), Jonny Stern (guitar) and Andy Macknight (drums) with Luke Mills (vocals) from Portsmouth on the South coast.
This long-distance affair may indeed have been the reason that Mills has subsequently left the band, which was announced on March 3. He will be missed.
Vol 2 consists of five metal tracks totaling 24 minutes and each minute is filled with vigor, power, and intent. Obviously the NWOBHM is heavily represented which is always welcome but there is also a power metal vibe running through the EP, especially in the speed department.
The EP opens in understated fashion with gentle riffing until Mills makes his entrance with a big old scream. From then on “Virtual Humanity” is all about the metal, both New Wave of British, and power. The fast riffing and soloing are sublime and it is a great song to kick off with.
“Dead City” is more old school (skool? I dunno) and is a back to basics foot-stomper. Plenty of fist-raising in the crowd, I suspect. Some nice guitar runs in there too.
“Midnight Ryder” harks back to the glory days of the NWOBHM, with chugging riffs and twin- lead runs but with the modern affectation of a superfast solo. I can’t say I’m a fan of this uber-twiddling if it doesn’t match the rest of the song but on this occasion, Stern and Thorpe just about get away with it.
The fourth track of Vol 2 is an absolute beaut, with a great acoustic setup promptly halted by screaming guitars. “Mistress of Darkness” has it all. It’s a headbanging, fist-pumping, singalong triumph. It also has the best, most fitting solo on the EP. Love it, love it.
Finally, we have “Take the Night” which is a power metal affair with speed being the key element here, at least until there is a slowdown in proceedings midway through. Time for a bit of contemplation before we finish on a metal high.
The production, such as it is, is an interesting one. There doesn’t seem to be much of it, to be honest, but in my opinion that only adds to the overall effect. The classic NWOBHM albums were never the best produced and the feel of Vol 2 is very much in the same vein. Mills’ vocals are left to their own devices and are laid bare. It’s a good job that boy can sing!
Raw is probably the word which sums up Vol 2. In no way is that a criticism and points more to the production. The musicianship is first class and the EP is a thoroughly enjoyable metal ride. Ryde on guys and hopefully you will find Luke‘s replacement sooner rather than later.
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Sparky