I had never heard anything by Belgian CRUSADER, only of them, and together with Ralf’s review of “Fools” I felt as if it could be a good fit with me. Now “SkinClad” made it to my doorstep, so I was eager to hear for myself what the fuzz is all about and from what I read, I did not expect a knight in shining armour type production and sound, bracing myself for a trip right into the Eighties.
Well, the CD definitely sits neck deep in the Eighties and even though the compatibility factor between CRUSADER and me is not really low, “SkinClad” barely manages to fire on two cylinders, with heavy dents in the armour, a cracked shield and a sword that might slice through butter, but definitely not any sort of defensive means. Sounds annihilating, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not as bad as it may read, but I definitely had far higher hopes for this line-up-stability-impaired Belgian band than what they actually deliver here.
Opener “Casualty” sounds a bit dusty and the vocals of David Walgrave have a lightly quirky quality to them, it’s got character and with its driving rhythm not bad, just the organ solo towards the end is a bit out of place, but hey, I can live with this! “My Mother, My Meadow” is pretty good, too, with good drive, “Leprechauns” has a nice Folky touch and the two-part “The Confession” is pretty good, too, the first one reminds me of KING DIAMOND with a morbid atmosphere, while the second part technically has potential, but is too drawn out.
So far so good, but on the other side we have overtly simple riffs and song structures, melodies with hardly any memorability and very cheap sounding keyboards and it makes me wonder what this is about. Guitarist Filip decided to leave the band even before the release of this album, if it was because out of embarrassment about some of the songs or because he could not do any better anymore I don’t know, but from what I read “SkinClad” is somewhat of a style change from their previous efforts and none for the better, so it seems…
I am very sorry to have to write this, but this is an utter disappointment and with a few exceptions a boring album that is coughing in the dust of legions of other albums of this style passing them by.
(Online April 25, 2007)