Years ago, when Sweden was seething amazing music, Skyfire emerged with a ridiculously good debut album called Timeless Departure that was more theatrical than anything Children of Bodom could churn out. It turned many underground heads, including mine, and gave the band somewhat of a name. The band continuously rendered enjoyable albums including 2004s Spectral, but nothing was quite like Timeless. I was anticipating the bands return for five years and there was talk of this new line-up and album for around two years. Needless to say the wait was long and irritating. Finally, Esoteric lands on my doorstep and the wait for one of my favorite bands new album was over.

Esoteric is special because of a few things. First, there is the addition of young guitar wiz Johan Reinholdz (Andromeda, Nonexist). This guy is incredibly good. He is basically a virtuoso like Yngwie Malmsteen with a modern style and a taste for the extreme ends of metal. His work with Andromeda alone is credible and he actually contributed to Timeless Departure. So, to hear that Mr. Reinholdz was an official member of Skyfire now made me ecstatic. The change in vocalists is another significant part of Esoteric. Joakim Karlsson isn’t quite the high pitch screamer Henrik Wenngren was but he is a fine vocalist to say the least. Joakims approach is much more hoarse but powerful.

Skyfire’s sound on Esoteric is busy. The first time I put this in I was a little overwhelmed. What we have here is a return to the Timeless Departure days with a big orchestrated sound. The only difference this time around is that it’s darker. The interplay of keyboards and layered guitars is something that takes numerous listens to decipher. It’s more technical than Bodom or Kalmah, which is where a lot of records will fall flat in the songwriting department. However, Skyfire keep it together and deliver some seriously good material. This will be the symphonic album of the year for me.

Speed and melody are key. “Rise and Decay,” and “Under a Pitch Black Sky” are perfect examples of the balance of fast blackened blasts opening up to epic and dramatic choruses. The blast beats are something that is new to the Skyfire camp, at least this many. The further you get into the record the more blasts you hear. The band definitely took a nastier approach on this record.

The keyboards are fantastic. They flutter and weave their way through every inch of this record adding dreamlike qualities. It’s like hearing the band Winds play melodic death metal. Amazing.

Skyfire are criminally underrated. Even if this is a sound that has been attempted before, Esoteric carries its own character and marks one hell of a return for a band that has been in hiding for too long. Unfortunately, this won’t make it on too many peoples year end list. I for one am going to keep it as a strong contender. Great fucking album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
October 21st, 2009


  1. Commented by: ceno

    Great review, Shane! :cool: Due to Esoteric, Skyfire has become my new favorite band. One of the most awesome combimations of the symphonic and the extreme ever! I also hear lots of Symphony X trademarks here. I have already gotten their other 2 albums. The only gap is the debut which I’ll sure put on my list of purchases asap.

  2. Commented by: ceno

    Hm, didn’t have an idea Johan Reinholdz was on the guitars here. Now I know why I like it so much.

  3. Commented by: mike

    Awesome, awesome. Took about a dozen spins to finally really get into it. Not as good as Spectral which was flawless IMO, but on par with Timeless Departure and better than the underrated Mind Revolution.

  4. Commented by: Chris

    Incredible album from one of my favorites. I agree that this band is terribly underrated!

  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    will have to check these guys out – convincing review, Stiffer!

  6. Commented by: Shane

    Check out track #7 Misery’s Supremacy. Jesus thats awesomeness right there people. This album has no intentions of getting old anytime soon. I’m a little puzzled by the average reviews this is getting.

  7. Commented by: ben

    I personally loved let the old world burn and darkness descending, The whole album is great, too bad that the old vocalist left! dont get me wrong this vocalist is amazing too.

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Kerry King - From Hell I Rise
  • Trocar - Extremities
  • Vesperian Sorrow - Awaken the Greylight
  • From Dying Suns - Calamity
  • Volcandra - The Way of the Ancients
  • Kosuke Hashida - Justifiable Homicide
  • The Dread Crew of Oddwood - Rust & Glory
  • Six Feet Under - Killing For Revenge
  • Skulldozer - Non Stop Ruthless Crushing
  • Synestia/Disembodied Tyrant  - The Poetic Edda EP
  • Necropanther - Oblivion Jones: A Tale of False Consciousness EP
  • Sarcasm - Mourninghoul
  • Satanic North - Satanic North
  • Stygian Crown - Funeral for a King
  • Desolus - System Shock