SkeleToon – Ticking Clock (Revalve Records)Tuesday, 28th March 2017
Born as a Kiske-era Helloween tribute band, Italian act SkeleToon evolved into an original band as singer Tomi Fooler assembled the best musicians he knew from live shows through the years. Issuing their debut record The Curse of the Avenger last year with a guest appearance from Roland Grapow, Ticking Clock follows things up in power metal comfort, containing new guests and a familiarity that straddles classic heavy metal and Teutonic/European uplifting spirits. Self-proclaimed as ‘nerd-metal’, expect content to include fun/ humorous takes on the mainstream, a love of 80’s video games, and movie/superhero/ television themes – adequate complimentary topics for the positive, uplifting guitars, solid tempos, and sing-a-long oriented melodies at hand.
After an intro moment on “Dreamland” that includes channel changing segments of television and movie theme songs (love the “Ghostbusters” part), the song kicks in to gear with up tempo double bass and dual guitar harmonies from Davide Piletto and Andy ‘K’ Cappellari in the old Helloween/ Edguy playbook – the chorus soaring in grand falsetto splendor awaiting unison audience accompaniment. From there the record ebbs and flows between the heavy metal and power sides – SkeleToon able to shift into anthem mode for a mid-tempo, Accept-esque “Drowning Sleep” (featuring voice work from Korpiklaani’s Jonne Järvelaä) or Priest-like “Chasing Time” which gives a precision rhythm riff clinic for Tomi to channel his inner Halford upper note register. For those that want the gallops, twin harmonies, and happier than heaven numbers, look no further than “Night Ain’t Over” and “Mooncry” to satisfy those power cravings. You’ll also get a ballad, some acoustic work, and other guest spots from Piet Sielck to Jens Ludwig, possibly adding street cred to SkeleToon for those fence sitters unsure of taking on these relative newcomers to the scene.
Leaving the epic 10:47 “The Awakening” as the closer probably speaks to the prototypical power closer handbook, but the wah-wah oriented solo opening, more progressive verses, oddball vocal inflections (tick tock, tick tock), and darker instrumental break keeps the listener engaged in excitement and anticipation as to where the twists will go. Hard to take the skeleton cover seriously, but if you want a fun power metal album that emphasizes the metal side of things just as much as keeping things happier, Ticking Clock probably checks off all those necessary aural buttons.