Sunday, September 23, 2012

Reader Submissions: Skelator: Agents of Power

Skelator huh?  I suppose I should not be shocked that the He-Man arch-nemesis has spawned a band name.  It's just kind of funny really.  I don't take Skelator particularly seriously myself, but that could just be me.  The band Skelator has been around for quite some time, though this is the first I have heard of them.  This is the band's third full-length album and they have several demos over the years as well.

This is a fairly typical swords-and-sorcery type metal band.  Their lyrics are mostly pulled from Michael Moorcock, especially after the first four tracks.  I am not really up on fantasy literature a whole lot so you will have to forgive me if I have no idea who that is.  At any rate, you can probably guess that fantasy stories make up the lyrical content here.  Titles like "Gates of Thorbadin", and "Elric the Dragon Prince" certainly make that plainly evident.  I am not the biggest fan of bands like this, especially since I am not a big fantasy fan, but if the music is done well, I can usually look past it.

So that brings us to the music.  Skelator definitely fits the mold of other bands that center their songs around fantasy themes.  They play music in the vein of early American power metal and other classic metal styles, owing a lot to the music of Manilla Road, Omen, and the like.  The music is typical for power/speed metal with guitar-driven riffs and anthemic choruses.  The leads show a heavy Iron Maiden influence and the dual guitar attack is done quite well.  The individual songs are certainly memorable and highly infectious.

The vocals took a little while to grow on me.  Initially they came off as too high and abrasive, but as I continued to listen, they fit in quite well with the music.  They sound like a mix of vocal styles from Rob Halford, Geoff Tate from Queensryche, and Steve Grimmett from Grim Reaper.  Once past the initial shock and dislike, the vocals actually sounded quite good.  Jason Conde-Houston has exactly the type of voice you would want in a band of this style.

Overall I think this is definitely a grower.  Initially I was skeptical that I would really like it at all with the fantasy lyrics and vocal style, but I got into it as it wore on.  This is actually not unusual for me with this type of metal.  Domine took awhile for me to get into as well, and Skelator has a lot in common with them.  Overall this is an impressive power/speed metal album.  Another good slice of classic metal.

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