Skyclad, a sadly overlooked band if there ever was one, was born from the ashes of British thrash band Sabbat and took the thrash metal sound of that band, infused it with some folk elements and went on to become one of the first (if not the first) folk metal band of all time. However, on this, their debut, thrash is still the name of the game and what folk-y elements there are, are just spices on a thrash stew.
Comparing Sabbat’s sound to this album, it is quite obvious that Skyclad started out as a progression of what Sabbat was before vocalist Martin Walkyier left the band after their second album, to a large extent at least. And of course, Walkyier’s hoarse vocals and noticeable lisp were trademarks of both bands.
Although the band would later evolve to greater levels of excellence and ambition (and abandon thrash in favour of a folky take on heavy metal), Wayward Sons Of Mother Earth is far from a simplistic, dime-a-dozen take on thrash metal. Already here the ambition of the band is obvious, and the highlights of the album, which include opener The Sky Beneath My Feet, Trance Dance (A Dreamtime Walkabout) and the folkiest tune of the album, The Widdershins Jig, are masterful pieces combining thrash ferocity with well-wrought lyrics and the occasional moment of folk-instrumentation. However, apart from these moments of excellence, there is too much material that just isn’t particularly memorable, in the same way Sabbat wasn’t very memorable.
Whilst not one of the high points in their career, Skyclad’s debut is a solid foundation from which the band continued to evolve in quick succession to become one of the best metal bands of the 90’s.