SKYFIRE, a criminally underrated and still oft-unknown Swedish quintet, return in 2003 with their sophomore release, and there's nary the proverbial slump in sight. Enlisting once again the services of the legendary Abyss studios (with the lesser known Tommy Tagtren twisting the knobs), the sound is clean and crisp; the production is confident and powerful. In short: superb.
SKYFIRE doesn't disappoint their loyal and growing fanbase with the follow-up to 2001's Timeless Departure, but rather offer an even stronger, far tighter 2nd album. Nine tracks that demonstrate just how good metal can be. How metal doesn't have to compromise and become more "accessible" or more "catchy." Which is strangely ironic, considering how damned catchy and accessible Mind Revolution winds up turning out. Hmph. But I digress. Let's delve into this soon-to-be masterpiece and see what's what.
Less symphonic than before, less shredding than before, but far more bludgeoning in the riff department equals a much more satisfying death metal platter to quench your hunger for meaty metal. Unlike some of their *cough* Swedish peers, SKYFIRE has [thankfully] realized that they can continue to incorporate tasteful and even powerful keyboards to their mix without demolishing the metallic aspects of their music. Martin Hanner and Andreas Edlund's keyboards are incredibly tight this go `round, less manic and overbearing as they sometimes were on the debut, and weave intricately and impeccably in and around the delicious guitar lines. The same duo's guitarwork is nothing short of brilliant as well. Technically proggy at times (a good chunk of "Shapes Of Insanity"), evil and guttural at others ("Blinded By Euphoria," which I swear sounds like the bastard offspring of latter-era IMMORTAL and DISSECTION), ripping and incendiary at still others ("Nightmares Nevermore," "Colliding In Mind"), this is a guitar duo who's grown and matured quite a bit over the past 24 months. Drummer Joakim Jonsson puts forth his best effort yet, even incorporating some blasting sections! during "Shapes...," and "Caged," incidentally 2 of the stronger songs on the album. However, it is Henrik Wenngren's impassioned, tortured vocal shrieks and growls that push this album from being very good to must-own. I definitely don't remember his sounding this confident and aggressive on the debut.
Let it suffice to say that there's quite a bit here for every type of metalhead. Mind Revolution is an amalgam of so many styles; I won't do the band a disservice by pigeonholing them with a label. Rest assured, if you like guitar riffs, melody, superb extreme vocals and enthusiastic, damned catchy metal, you'll find something about this record to keep coming back to. Surely going to stand tall at the end of 2003.