Released by: AFM Records
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Genre: Folk Metal/Rock
Jessica Thierjung – Vocals
Tim Sonnenstuhl – Guitars
Oliver Thierjung – Bass, Backing Vocals
Markus Fidorra – Drums
Joon Laukamp – Violin
Linda Laukamp: – Cello, Backing Vocals
2. Falling Skies
3. Skin and Bones
4. Black and White
5. Days Had Just Begun
6. Your Eyes
7. Dust to Dust
8. Der Weg
10. Worth the Fight
11. Running in Our Blood
12. Dream Within a Dream
13. Black and White (Second Skin Version)
Folk metal is a very hit and miss genre for me, but when it hits, it can be very special. The latest release from German band Lyriel is the latest example of a folk album I greatly enjoy. I had heard their previous two releases and liked them quite a bit, though they were both more driven by symphonic elements, and they apparently marked a change in direction for the band. With their fifth release Skin and Bones, Lyriel has once again put their folk elements front and center, sometimes through catchier tunes with a definite metal edge, and sometimes through much softer tracks that border on being pop-ish.
While their first album I heard, Paranoid Circus, was occasionally a bit experimental with its songwriting, their previous album Leverage was more accessible and straight-forward, which is also true of Skin and Bones. The symphonic elements are still there in quick bursts, but every song is dominated by the use of a violin and a cello, and there’s always a strong folk vibe to the music. Some of the songs are strengthened by some heavy riffs, but for the most part this a very light and melodic album, full of extremely catchy choruses.
Vocals are performed by Jessica Thierjung, who does an excellent job as always. She has a very pleasant voice, and her tone fits perfectly with the string instruments in particular, which adds even more to the folk vibe of the album. Occasionally she sings with a bit of an edge, which enhances the heavier songs, and she has a particularly strong lower register, which she uses a lot on this album. The song “Black and White” features a guest appearance from former Scar Symmetry vocalist Christian Älvestam, who uses his clean vocals a little bit during the vocals, but the real highlight of the song is just before the chorus, when he unleashes his awesome death growls.
Opening track and single “Numbers” is one of the catchiest, and most enjoyable songs on the album. It’s a fun and upbeat track, where the folk instruments instantly take over, and combine with the insanely catchy rhythms and chorus to create an overly addictive song that really does make for a an excellent single. Next is the mid tempo track “Falling Skies”, which is slightly heavier and has a slightly darker tone, but Jessica’s vocals and the chorus ensure that it doesn’t stray too far from the typically light and melodic sound of the album. The title track starts off with a fast riff, and is another highlight. I already mentioned “Black and White”, but the band also included an alternate “Second Skin Version”, which pushes the growls into the background in favor of Jessica’s vocals. Both versions are excellent, and I like them equally.
Moving on, the album has three ballad. The best of them is probably “Dream Within A Dream”, though “Days Had Just Begun” and “Astray” are very good as well. It’s not a ballad, but “Dust to Dust” is another very light track, with perhaps the most memorable folk melodies on the album. I’d say it’s much more folk rock than metal, but due to the folksy and melodic nature of the album on the whole, it still fits in nicely. “Der Weg” stands out for being the only song to feature German lyrics, but not only is it enhanced by hearing Jessica sing in her native tongue, the song itself is a heavier mid tempo song with some very good riffs. Speaking of which, my favorite riff of the album comes at the very beginning of “Running in Our Blood”, which then proceeds to transform into another lighter track, with perhaps the silliest yet most addictive chorus of the album. As silly as the lyrics are, I think that song is probably my favorite here.
As someone who prefers folk metal to either be extremely epic or light and melodic, I think Skin and Bones is an excellent album, and definitely the best I’ve heard by Lyriel so far. Fans of lighter, more melodic folk metal are highly recommended to give it a listen, as it’s a very fun and accessible album, which also features occasional symphonic elements.
Written by Travis