Skyfire - Esoteric

Skyfire belong to a third wave of Swedish acts that also includes names like The Duskfall and Arise, who were committed to carryout the torch of the melodically-driven death-metal of Dark Tranquillity and In Flames aflame into the new millennium. Although all their three full-length albums were accomplished and interesting pieces of melodic death-metal, when compared to other releases from similar groups like Soilwork, Scar Symmetry et all they ended up sounding slightly harmless and pale, and therefore never attained the level of success of their peers. This is probably why, the announcement of their return, following a period of inactivity imposed by line-up hassles, was not received with the greatest of enthusiasms.
Despite the five years separating ‘Esoteric’ from their previous album ‘Spectral’ and all the changes to their formation that occurred in between, Skyfire don’t sound drastically different from where they last left off. The cervical spine of their compositions continues to be a blend of progressive power-metal and symphonic death-metal. Perhaps ‘Esoteric’ displays a greater infatuation towards the progressive side of their sound, bringing to mind bands like Symphony-X and Pain of Salvation, and that’s probably due to the influence of new and extraordinary guitarist Johan Reinholdz from Andromeda. I guess it would be simply illogical to not take advantage of his incredible talent and skill on the six-strings, so throughout the eleven songs, arpeggios, leads and other guitar tricks abound like pilgrims on the holy week celebrations. The guitar work tends to be highly elaborated and technical, yet the harmonies that are expelled out are also highly contagious and memorable.
Another well-noted difference deals with the change of vocalists, Joakim Karlsson have jumped on board to replace Henrik Wenngren and his grunts are raspy and sharp, yet surprisingly perceptible.
The keyboards as always, continue to be much more than a simple decorative element in Skyfire’s compositions, and just like in Children of Bodom or Kalmah, they work in tandem with the nimble and fast guitars, and also have a chance to shine individually on various moments. Take for instance the prog tendencies of ‘Rise and Decay’, which is a tad slower in tempo when compared to most of the themes, and where the piano melodies provide the fitting background atmosphere for the notable duel of arpeggios between the two guitarists.
‘Darkness Descending’, is another song highlighted by keyboards, displaying a dark and diabolical atmosphere verging on the symphonic black-metal of Dimmu Borgir. Which is the same that can be said about the rabid ‘Under a Pitch Black Sky’.
While not being exactly an essential or groundbreaking album, on ‘Esoteric’ Skyfire have nevertheless demonstrated class and skill in a style of music style that very often tends to become pretty harmless and pedestrian.

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  1. Third wave?? Along with The Duskfall and Arise?? You must be joking cause Skyfire have been around since 98 or something.

  2. Well, considering Liers in Wait who would latter evolve into At the Gates, In Flames, Eucharist and Dark Tranquillity were the precursors of the whole New Wave Of Swedish Death Metal style. And then in the mid 90’s came groups like Gardenian, Soilwork, Gates of Ishtar trotting through similar territories, that makes bands like Scar Symmetry, The Duskfall, Arise and Skyfire part of a third generation of musical collectives playing Swedish melodic death-metal.