SkeleToon – They Never Say Die (Scarlet Records)Monday, 11th March 2019
A concept power metal album about The Goonies movie from the 1980’s? Why not, in a landscape where fantasy, sci-fi, or battle tested warriors can also become popular subject matter in this genre. SkeleToon showcase an uplifting, European-oriented style featuring high-pitch melodies, loads of positive, charming major chords and the ubiquitous choir-oriented choruses designed for unison audience supplementation. They Never Say Die lays out the storyline over the course of nine songs – ending the record on an Avantasia cover “Farewell” and their own interpretation of the Cyndi Lauper soundtrack classic “Goonies R Good Enough”.
Beyond the traditional band that wrote and recorded these songs, the band choose to amplify the storyline through numerous vocal guests to play the roles of Capt. Jack Sparrow, Chunk, Sloth, and One Eyed Willy among others. Standouts in that regard are Alessandro Conti (Lione/Conti, Trick or Treat) for his Kiske-esque delivery on “The Truffle Shuffle Army: Bizardly Bizarre” which compliments the catchy twin guitar harmonies and steady double bass action paying homage to “Eagle Fly Free” and Michele Luppi for “Last Chance”, the 80’s-style keyboard pumping and Dio-oriented riffing giving the song a bit of a faster “Rainbow in the Dark” atmosphere. The churning guitar/keyboard syncopation on the eight-minute plus “When Legends Turn Real” allows for some sinister shred activities, although the lower, dramatic melodies in the verses keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s quite obvious the band love Helloween, Edguy (first three albums especially), and Gamma Ray, and we all know that type of energetic, positive metal still has a place in many hearts.
The third in a five-part saga of a fictional journey into cult movies, video games, and comics dubbed by the group as ‘nerd metal’ – there are plenty of people in the metal landscape that will dig the combination of a favored movie for lyrical content and the Teutonic-driven power metal soundtrack put to this. Suspend conventional wisdom and dig into your inner childhood for this one – SkeleToon just want to have fun, and through They Never Say Die achieve that goal while also paying homage to their favorite geek culture and influences in the process.