Review: Skyclad - Vintage Whine

Country: UK
Genre: Power/Folk Metal
Release Year: 1999
Label: Massacre Records
Format: CD
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“This Vintage Whine was fermented from two years worth of sour grapes harvested in the northern regions of The British Isles. Its bitter aftertaste makes it the ideal accompaniment for hard cheese and humble pie. Perfect for divorces, suicides and all other antisocial occasions. Serve chilled.”

This is how the band had chosen to welcome the buyer of this album in the first lines of the booklet. So I thought it was proper to start my review of one of my favorite ever albums with the same way. Skyclad’s “Vintage Whine” was one of the first albums to ever hear during my entrance in the field called metal and I consider myself lucky to have a start of this magnitude.

Vintage Whine made it to my top list due to the combination of clever, emotional, meaningful lyrics with powerful compositions accompanied with Martin’s unique interpretation. His interpretation leaves you the impression of a person who really lived those things that describes through the songs.

But let’s get the things from the beginning. Once you place the album on the spin, you have your first contact with an intro. Is an instrumental trumpet march, just to be followed by the highly charged self-titled track “Vintage Whine”! The song begins with a folkloric melody coming out from screaming guitars and a violin played by a woman. That’s right, violinist in Skyclad since 1994 is George Biddle. “Anno 1999, a classic year for Vintage Whine”. A humorous I would say song that everyone will have a different perspective of the inside meaning. That’s because of the way Martin Walkyier writes his lyrics.

Follower of the self titled song is the prophetic “On With Their Heads”. And I say prophetic because I detect a kind of prophecy in the chorus.
«...Love and laughter you see, are the new currency
‘cause greed’s coinage I not worth a toss»
But let’s not get much verbose on the lyrics ‘cause this could take days. Martin’s lyrics deserve a page on their own. 

So “On with their heads” is fast tempo song, with speedy vocals and a gloomy atmosphere coming from some mid-tempo parts in the melody.

On the line is “The Silver Cloud’s Dark Lining”. Just from the title you get the genious idea. In UK there’s a phrase saying that Every Dark cloud has a Silver Lining, meaning that every bad situation in our life has its part of goodness in it. Just like the white dot in the black part of the Yin-Yan symbol. Martin changes that to “Silver Cloud’s Dark Lining” preparing you that “hold on, there’s a dark side on everything that looks good”.

Then comes the “A Well Beside The River”. Here’s a choir-shouting march with a doomed sense, building-ability.

The doomed atmosphere it changes to a more enigmatic situation with the “No Strings Attached”. An acoustic-guitar-oriented ballad to chill you down so that you won’t be able to see the storm that’s coming.

And that’s where “Bury Me” comes in the game. Personal favorite song from Skyclad. Every note, every single word from this song touches my soul. With ultimate rawness Martin describes the feelings of Man who’s been left by a woman. Attention. If you’re on emotional charge after a resent divorce/split-up then this song is for YOU. Once you listen to it you’ll grow up a feeling that will make you take the woman and tell her right in her face all of your feelings, all that you’ll never regret of telling! All that passion lying in your soul Martin successfully brings it to the surface and you’re able to show it to those they deserve it! All that energy, all that power, blasts out with the absolutely great guitar works between Steve Ramsey and Kevin Ridley along with Georgina’s violin medleys.

Another clever song is the next “Cancer Of The Heart”. Here Martin describes with the most graphic method how the human feelings like love, mercy, compassion makes us weak and gives advise of how you can avoid that. Same emotional charge as the above, choiring voices and amazing performance.

For the divorced ones, the ones that got fooled from a girl, comes the next one. In the “Little Miss Take” Martin uses his word-games to dedicate this song, as he says in the notes, “to the girl who used the word “love” the most, yet understood it the least”! More folky than the others but still a pleasant to hear it.

And we made it to the last song of the album, “Something to Cling To”. In this song Martin tries in a weird way to describe how friends will sell you out with the first chance that would appear.
An instrumental outro by Georgina is the last paint dropped on the canvas called “Vintage Whine”.

Vintage Whine is definitely a musthave for all the Power Metal/Folk Metal lovers out there. Full of emotion, lyrically insane and filled with raw word games! BUY OR DIE

Review by: Michalis "Starchild" Benakis