In the course of the folk-experiment "Oui Avant-garde A Chance" SKYCLAD-fans worldwide had been anxious about how the follow-up "The Answer Machine?" would sound, if they continued down the calm way or rather returned to their metallic roots.
Well, the first songs already clearly show that again the acoustic guitars triumph over the electric ones, besides the obligatory violin we also get bagpipes, accordion and banjo and altogether the folk overshadows the Metal (or rather Rock in general).
What at first sounded like a potential disappointment to some in the end emerged as another typical, if very calm SKYCLAD-album, which draws its charm from its very conclusive atmosphere and mood. Just as with the previous effort the united society Walkyier, Ramsey, English, Biddle has managed to create a very harmonic overall-sound, at times also taking up unusual song-structures (especially on "The Thread Of Evermore").
The only track that still retains the speed and heaviness of before is the slightly strangely titled "Eirenarch", which also lacks a little the sharpness of the earlier guitars, but which also fits the sound and mood of the song very well. I do not want to say that the rest of the album was not good, no, no, quite the contrary. "The Answer Machine?" rather forms the distant turning-point of the evolution since "Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth", the "Folk-end" of the SKYCLAD-sound.
The songs again are crowned by the outstanding lyrics of Martin Walkyier. The titles alone are a pleasure: "A Clown Of Thorns", "Worn Out Sole To Heel", "Fainting By Numbers", and the adjacent lyrics are just as brilliant, they alone almost justify the purchase of this CD, as usual with SKYCLAD!
The second calm album of the band from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which still is typically SKYCLAD though and even though the guitars don't shred and instead the acoustic guitars lead the way, it is just different SKYCLAD, no breach of style, great!