I will do my best not to compare this band with CHILDREN OF BODOM but when you’re a music reviewer and an observer of details things take on another turn. SKYFIRE do share the same bed as C.O.B., but they have a different approach.
Whereas C.O.B. plays a brand of Power Metal that’s thrashy and symphonic, even Punkish at times, SKYFIRE’s stuff is more orchestrated, epic, less Power Metal and much more Death/Black oriented. The compositional level on the bands albums has always been ambitious, I think “Timeless Departure” was a good starting point (though not being any memorable experience to yours truly), ”Mind Revolution” went past me and now “Spectral” is reassuring my interest in this band.
The album is a headstrong presentation of Epic Death/Black Metal with semi Progressive Metal influences that easily rivals C.O.B. or any other band with complex song structures and technical instrumentation. SKYFIRE’s apprenticeship is officially over, they have a sound they can call their own regardless of comparisons coming from other reviewers worldwide, take “Effusion Of Strength”, “Shivering Shade”, “A Dead Man’s Race” or “Tranquillity’s Maze”, each of them has skilled songwriting, dream like keyboard textures and hyperactive riffs/melodies. There are some atmospheric parts that might sound experimental but they fit rather well into the sound (see “Shivering Shades”).
“Conjuring The Thoughts” brings everything on the table, hidden variations, multi-textured arrangements, a bridge that recollects some 80’s traditional Metal parts and a hymnal chorus, a stunning track from beginning to end. “Void Of Hope”, a track that raises suspicion, that intro does sound like the one on “Hate Me” doesn’t it? Apart from that there’s isn’t much to bitch about in this song, fast blast beats go hand in hand with the colourful keyboards and speedy riffs as if they were made for each other. Another thing that sets SKYFIRE apart from other bands is that they don’t drown their songs with thousands of solo runs, there are some solos of course but the band is more concerned with shorter melodies.
The thing that scared me away from the band in the first place were the vocals of Henrik Wenngren, I thought they were too hysterical but I’m glad to hear that he now has more control over his truly harsh voice which constantly changes from a high pitched scream to a lower growl.
Gone is the Abyss sound that the band had going for the first two album, the combination of Los Angered Studios and Studio Underground gives the band a more crystallised sound, which of course is needed when listening to such intricate music.
If you’re going to call SKYFIRE a clone, now is not the time, “Spectral” is something special, I wouldn’t call it a genre defining album, but it deserves much, much more than a stamp that says “Made in Bodom”. (Online June 24, 2004)