The wayward sons of Mother Earth
December 7, 2011 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Founded in 1990, Skyclad is considered to be one of the first bands in the "folk metal" genre. Until his departure in 2001, the lyrics came from the pen of band leader Martin Walkyier, who wrote some of the most poetic and sharply socio-political lyrics in metal (and had a wicked way with a pun, to boot).

Oh, yeah, and Martin's last album with the band was called "Folkémon," "after one of the band members read in a newspaper that, according to a survey, more children recognised the Pokémon character Pikachu than the current Prime Minister. The theme is continued in the liner notes, with the band members listed, for example, as "Folkémon trainers."

Some Skyclad for your viewing/listening pleasure:

  • Penny Dreadful
  • Inequality Street
  • The Widdershins Jig
  • Bombjour!
  • Another Fine Mess
  • ... and a bitchin Thin Lizzy cover
  • posted by jbickers (18 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
    Seriously, Folkémon is amazing. Heed this poster's words!
    posted by Dark Messiah at 10:40 AM on December 7, 2011

    Martin also did some good work with Sabbat, by the way.
    posted by Dark Messiah at 10:42 AM on December 7, 2011

    I totally dig Skyclad. Any band that has song titles like "Great Blow for a Day Job" gets my vote!
    posted by starvingartist at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2011

    One of my proudest moments as an entrepreneur came about 12 years ago, when I was publishing my progmetal magazine Sea of Tranquility. I had this thing where I tried to get musicians to contribute to the mag - Tom Warrior of Celtic Frost had just written an exclusive essay for us - and when I went to do a cover story on Skyclad, Martin wrote an exclusive poem for the mag. And it was epic and awesome and everything great about metal in those days.

    and yeah, this post totally came about because I think of this band everytime somebody mentions Skyrim. Which is a lot lately.
    posted by jbickers at 10:49 AM on December 7, 2011

    I'm with Dark Messiah, I recognized Walkyier's name from Sabbat. Now I'm off to check out Skyclad. Thanks jbickers!
    posted by djeo at 10:57 AM on December 7, 2011

    God damn it used to be hard to find their CDs. Oh world before everything was instantly available on the internets, how strange and distant you seem.
    posted by Wolfdog at 11:01 AM on December 7, 2011

    Blasting this at full volume. Thanks for introducing me to this.

    It soothes my soul to listen to this along with some Spanish anarchist punk while I work for a mega corporation.

    "Open season on the under worked and overpaid indeed", followed by "¡SI SEÑOR!, ¡SI SEÑOR!, somos la revolución, tu enemigo es el patrón!"
    posted by Ayn Rand and God at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2011

    So the Levellers were Skyclad lite?
    posted by Keith Talent at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2011

    A metal band that covers Tenpole Tudor has to have something going for them.
    posted by ericthegardener at 11:42 AM on December 7, 2011

    Do you still have the poem to share with us, jbickers?
    posted by starvingartist at 11:58 AM on December 7, 2011

    The one thing Skyclad had that most of their folk metal successors was a sense of humour.

    I do like a lot of folk metal, but really a great deal of folk music has a sense of fun running through it, not everything has to be so damn serious.
    posted by DuchessProzac at 12:06 PM on December 7, 2011

    starvingartist, when I get home tonight I'll see if I can dig up one of the paper copies of that issue and scan it ...
    posted by jbickers at 12:18 PM on December 7, 2011

    This is the singer from Sabbat. I like me some Sabbat. Bought the tape in 1990 in high school. Blistering thrash!
    posted by Liquidwolf at 1:05 PM on December 7, 2011

    After reading a few of their lyrics, I'm uncertain what their politics are. They definitely seem to dislike poverty and exploitation, and they're for a revolution, but I'm not seeing any actual politics here.

    I'm usually overly paranoid about these things, but when you mix poorly defined revolutionary and power-to-the-people type ideas with paganism, environmentalism and metal, I worry on which side of the political spectrum these guys are.

    (I'm totally open to being told my suspicions are wrong here. I hope they are.)
    posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:02 PM on December 7, 2011

    He also had a fondness for kennings iirc,
    posted by ersatz at 4:20 PM on December 7, 2011

    Joakim Ziegler: I'm usually overly paranoid about these things, but when you mix poorly defined revolutionary and power-to-the-people type ideas with paganism, environmentalism and metal, I worry on which side of the political spectrum these guys are.

    I'm quite sure there's nothing to worry about there. I'm pretty immersed in the metal scene in general but never really got into Skyclad, but I'd never associated them with the far right in any sense, and never heard of far-rightists being into them or associating them with their cause. I did a bit of searching around on the subject, and eventually came across this, which was posted by Martin Walkyier on his Myspace page- I think the entire thing makes it very clear that he has no sympathy for Nazism or fascism whatsoever, and that his views are entirely incompatible with far-right views of any sort. Even without taking that into account, far-right politics essentially require nationalism of some sort, and there's not a trace of nationalism in Skyclad's lyrics from what I've seen- quite the reverse, in fact. I find it pretty much impossible to imagine an English far-right band writing a song like "Think Back and Lie of England."

    There is a problem with fascism in some parts of the metal scene, to be sure, but I don't think it's a great approach to assume a band holds fascist views based solely on a combination of not-inherently-fascist characteristics that is often shared by fascists. I think there's an ideological/philosophical current prevalent in metal (or at least large parts of the metal scene) and neofolk which is complicated and difficult to describe in brief, but "Romanticist" might be the word that comes closest to doing so. And yes, fascism had a Romantic element, and thus why fascists are often attracted to metal and neofolk- but Romanticism isn't inherently fascist any more than socialism is inherently Stalinist, and seeing Romanticism and automatically assuming fascism is like looking at a socialist punk band with a fondness for the color red and the imagery of worker's power, and just from that assuming that they must "really" be Stalinists who want to bring back the gulag. From what I've seen, actual fascist bands in these scenes who aren't forthright about their views tend to put "dog whistles" into their lyrics and artwork, and the best way of identifying them is to learn to recognize the dog whistles. This isn't always the easiest thing to figure out, but I think it's important to do- not only do false accusations on this subject harm innocents, I think they can give the actual fascists cover through the "boy who cried wolf" effect.
    posted by a louis wain cat at 9:13 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

    Led Zep mixed folk and metal too. In fact, Robert Plant sometimes used to call them "the world's loudest folk band".
    posted by Paul Slade at 2:13 AM on December 8, 2011

    You even linked to darklyrics! This takes me back, and I'm all shared-experience-warm-fuzzy inside now.

    Walkyier has a lot of great lines, one that stuck with me over the years is "Dignity is one thing that you can't preserve in alcohol". Not that I'm anti-alcohol, but it was just so damn clever when I first heard it :)
    posted by Kickdrum at 5:36 AM on December 8, 2011

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