Oui Avant Garde A Chance
Review score: 81%
Review Date: February 2014
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
Never mind the pun title, we haven’t got a chance of working out what the pagan cover artwork on this Skyclad 1996 masterpiece is all about, have we? Stonehenge style lith shadows adorn the cover of what may be my favourite Skyclad album of all time. Quintessentially English, Skyclad stand tall among the founding fathers of folk-metal.
Being a classic Skyclad album you get to hear original vocalist Martin Walkyier on Oui Avant-Garde a Chance. And, in typical Skyclad fashion, the track list is chock full of puns and in-jokes that it reads more like the a sketch list for a comedy revue than a music album. Folk music is never afraid to have a pop at social issues, and clearly folk-metal has the same ethos.
The album is stuffed with memorable tunes – check out some of these bad boys:
If I Die Laughing It’ll Be an Act of God
The album fires off with a typical Skyclad tune – catchy riffs abound as the band show off their pagan credentials, speaking their mind about the promises of Christianity compared to the brutal reality of life on planet Earth. It’s a fast paced number and will have you nodding your head or tapping your foot if you’re not careful.
Great Blow for a Day Job
Fantastic title for a song, no? Great Blow tells the story of a man selling his soul for a lifestyle of hedonistic pleasure. Electric, eclectic violin speeds into the number about Norman, the rundown banker working in a rundown branch of a soul destroying job. Tempted by evil this uncautionary tale tells what happens to Norman, the thirty years of pleasure he leads and never looks back. A good twist to a conventional folk song theme.
The band comment on mid-90s news stories about France and their testing of nuclear weapons. Bombjour! Is a warping of traditional French song Frere Jacques and French President Jacques Chirac, melding the two into a folk metal song about consciences with diplomatic immunity.
The first of two re-recordings from Skyclad’s earlier album Irrational Anthems. History Lessens is a wee bit critical of school and UK education, and also about the dangers of following our political leaders as they take advantage of us. This one is more laid back and folky than the original, but the message alone makes History Lessons worth playlisting.
Come On Eileen
A cover of a classic 1982 single from Dexy’s Midnight Runners, delivered by Skyclad with a surprisingly A clean, crisp sound. Martyn Walkyier sounds like he is having a real good time here, and his rendition of the chorus somehow manages to sound lecherous and passionate.
Skyclad deliver a gritty cover rendition of this old number from New Model Army’ 1986 album The Ghost of Cain. The Skyclad version released a decade is my favourite out of the two, sounding more angry, passionate and pagan. Great guitar solo in the middle, blended with a classic Skyclad instrumental.
Penny Dreadful is a fast paced, cheery, plus one enhanced version of an already amazing Skyclad number about the music press versus musical integrity. A very, very good, extremely listenable and possibly the highlight of the entire album. An excellent note to finish on.
If you’ve never tried listening to Skyclad before then Oui Avant-Garde a Chance is a great place to start. Chock full of catchy tunes and interesting / amusing / punny lyrics there’s something to please the ear here. Oh yes, and it turns out that judicious use of violin in rock music can be a very good thing. Give the ‘clad a listen – see what you’ve been missing all these years.
Track List (may vary)
- If I die laughing it’ll be an act of God
- Great Blow for a Day Job
- Constance Eternal
- Postcard from Planet Earth
- Jumping My Shadow
- History Lessens
- A Badtime Story
- Come On Eileen
- Master Race
- Bombed Out
- Penny Dreadful