But first, a note on the format this blog is likely to take over the next few posts. At present, it is my intention to waffle on about virtually anything; but under the category of either artist, album, song, genre, video, or similar. Naturally, to be awkward, my second post on music itself will be one which falls into two of the above categories (and to be honest I have plans to do a similar thing with the next). For today, good readers, I am going to tell you of The Clan Destined.
Rarely has an album title been more apt than their debut offering, In the Big Ending...; for not only was it their first offering, but also, it seems, their last. Their lead-man, former Sabbat and Skyclad vocalist Martin Walkyier, is the main reason for this: the album was an epic slog the like of which, if widely known, would surely be accepted as one of the greatest and most challenging of all time. Suffice it to say that Master Walkyier has retired from the world of vocalising, and possibly music-making in general, as a result. This is a Sad Loss indeed.
But on with the blatherings regarding the album itself. Broadly stuffed into a genre, it would best be described as "pagan metal", the former word referring to the subject matter, the latter to the style in which it is performed. It is a highly politicised album, pulling no punches and throwing its message at the listener in such a blunt style as to render said message entirely unmistakable: humanity is in deep trouble, but not so deep that we can't get ourselves out of it if we really tried. The message is most clear in the first and last tracks, and certainly there are a few in there with very little in way of political message, but it is clear enough that the views put forward form one of the key elements in this short album/EP.
It is not preaching paganism to convert the masses, except insofar as paganism advocates the breaking down of interpersonal barriers and extending co-operation as far as is possible. It is, naturally, anti-establishment, but not with the mindless anarchy of the punk tradition, but rather in the way of illustrating the problem and pointing out that there are deceptively simple answers out there.
Musically, it's not outstanding to be fair. While certainly on the heavy side of the scale (heavier than Skyclad, but lighter than Sabbat), it's kept at a level that allows the vocals to send the message across powerfully. Walkyier's never had a great voice, but there's a compelling charisma to it that demands your attention; no doubt this is a product of his complete belief in what he's singing about, and his desperation to be heard and understood.
One way or another, this is an album worth listening to. The message does not push the music back into a supporting role, so even if you fail to grasp the purpose of this record you may well still enjoy listening to it. It is probably fitting that my first full album review on this blog should be of an album that falls into not one, nor two, but all three of the vague headings after which the blog is named. It brims over with debaucherous fun in places (particularly Devil for a Day); it is truly poetic throughout (with the highlight of this being in A Beautiful Start to the End of the World); and oh does it ever thunder. The opening and closing tracks (Swinging like Judas and More Than War) are powerful pieces in which the music pounds through like a sledgehammer with the vitriolic lyrics etched upon it.