Ill go out on a limb saying that SKYFORGER are the best band the Baltic ever has spawned, just listen to "Perkonkalve - Thunderforge" and you will be fully convinced of this! When I saw that a SKYFORGER CD had arrived in our mailbox, I had really hoped for a new masterpiece, but Kauja Pie Saules is an old masterpiece, more precisely their debut, re-issued via Paragon Records.
As you can imagine, this CD, originally released in 1998, is a good bit rawer than the last grandiose works, but the incredible potential of this band already was crystal clear back then (their legendary demo Semigalls Warchant already was proof enough). Pagan Metal with great, majestic melodies and a good portion of heaviness rules on this disc and one of the main differences to the newer album, other than the evolved song writing, of course, is the voice, which still is a lot harsher and Black Metallic than later on, which at least at the beginning put me off a bit, but the music more than makes up for this.
Especially when the Latvians incorporate their clear chants the music has incredible expressiveness and power, combined with the varying tempos and strong melodies they create true epics, whichs story you dont understand, even if you understood Latvian I think youd have trouble discerning much, but SKYFORGER convey their message and stories through the music itself. Title track "Kauja Pie Saules 1236" ("The Battle Of Saule 1236") is the almost perfect example for the above mentioned, while "Senču Ozols" even adds some flute, which also returns on "Kam Pūšat Kara Taures" and "Kauja Garozas Silā 1287".
It is hard to point out single songs, as almost all of them have their individual highlights, be it the big variety of "Kurši", the bagpipe intro and increased Folk portion of "Kalējs Kala Dbesīs" or "Kam Pūšat Kara Taures", which only consists of flute, percussion and choir, each and every one of them manifests for the uniqueness and class of this band.
If you do not know SKYFORGER yet, I would rather recommend "Latviesi Strelniecki" or "Perkonkalve", but you cant make a mistake with any release of SKYFORGER, one of my favourite bands!
(Online October 26, 2006)