Skeletoon – The 1.21 Gigawatts Club (Scarlet Records)Monday, 25th October 2021
We all appreciate the transformative possibilities within heavy metal. One genre full of the fantasy, folklore, and magical/mystical storytelling and equally energetic propensities for musical support is power metal. Dipping back into the 80’s Hollywood movie well following their Goonies-inspired They Never Say Die album from 2019, Skeletoon felt the need to visit the Back to the Future saga / adventures of Marty and Doc as the backdrop for The 1.21 Gigawatts Club. Beyond an intro you’ll get nine original tracks showcasing the quintet’s competency and versatility for all things important for European power metal – placing their own spin on the infamous “Johnny B. Goode” cover that was a centerpiece of the first movie.
Thunderous sixteenth-note escapades, twin guitar melodies, persistent double bass/elevated BPM tempos plus massive choirs and upper register falsettos come roaring out of the gate on the first two songs “Holding On” and “Outatime” – setting the stage as the greats like Helloween, Gamma Ray, and DragonForce did in the past. Veteran musicians know that staying stuck in one proverbial gear makes for a very bland, monotonous effort – so Skeletoon excel at traversing other aspects of their influence bank, a bit more AOR/melodic hard rockin’ in terms of the hooks and key accents for “The Pinheads” (featuring 80’s keyboard tones plus stellar bass groove support from Giacomo Stiaccini) while “Enchant Me” serves as the atmospheric ballad switch-up to provide emotional tenderness. Heroic guitar/bass interplay allows vocalist Tomi Fooler ample chances for pitch perfect multi-octave lines to savor, the type of work that encourages audience clapping, stomping, and singalong activities. Check out “Pleasure Paradise (Oh La La)” as a latter half outing where the main riffing and subdued instrumental passages bring out a bit of Somewhere in Time-esque Iron Maiden movements. Considering the band has been pumping out new material on an annual basis, it’s quite impressive to enjoy the creative bursts and adequate knowledge/execution with all the bells and whistles in the right places (the almost barbershop male choir during the epic “Eastwood Rivine” a left-field surprise) – not overstaying their welcome to make for a tidy 48-minute effort.
You don’t hear many bands like Skeletoon willing to embrace the classic era of power metal from the 80’s/90’s and put their own stamp/spin on the proceedings. Continuing to hit home runs in the studio, hopefully more power metal mavens champion these Italians as this is another high-quality record to treasure.