November Album Of The Month
They say on their Twitter page that they rock harder than you would believe. It’s true.
British three-piece SKAM return next month with their career-defining album to date. The culmination of two early albums and a schedule of relentless touring, all roads lead to the new album – The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard. It marks a high point for the band as they land a mature, intelligent and sophisticated album that will command attention and beg the question (yet again) why on earth the country’s bright emerging rock bands are not garnering more airplay than they deserve.
Casting aside notions of ‘concept’ album and ‘prog’ – conjuring up images of goblins, wizards and dragons … which would be out of place on a 1930’s RAF base – the SKAM album is framed around the story of Squadron Leader Geoffrey Goddard, a test pilot from 1935, who is a victim of strange forces that jolt him through time. The lyrical content of the album is centre stage, and the relationship between the words and music pulls the listener in.
The album is a body of work, rather than a collection of songs and there is a coherent musical identity throughout. The songs work as chapters of an album to capture well the sound of SKAM today and demonstrate how profoundly the band has evolved in a relatively short time. From the slightly predictable gothic /black metal imagery of the early video for ‘The Holy City’, the new album sees the band pushing new creative boundaries in terms of narrative, concept and the clever and purposeful interplay of words, music, film and imagery. The result is The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard delivers an arresting and totally immersive, widescreen experience and confirms SKAM’s place at the forefront of the new generation of contemporary British rock.
The album opens with an atmospheric narrative that sets out the story for the album. But before any SKAM fan gets a chance to fear they might be in for a single track prog extravaganza, the music kicks in in electrifying form – long before any pixies, wizards or goblins are given a moment to scramble their Spitfires for take-off!
‘Between the Eyes’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a three-minute opus packed with dramatic riffs, arresting choruses, an expressive guitar solo, and SKAM’s signature tight rhythm section. As well as opening the album with purpose and energy, this choice of opening track also makes clear to the listener the importance of paying attention to the lyrics: The album is, after all, a story.
With ‘The Iron Cross’ the pounding pace continues with a feel of early Rush, and ‘Otherside’ delivers a soaring vocal performance. This leads into ‘Take It Or Leave It’ – for me the album goes up a further gear here. With this track we have another three-minute powerhouse, that in another age one could imagine riding radio airwaves and clocking in the charts. So many rising bands are penning great ‘singles’ at the moment that stand well on their own, and in my book ‘Take It Or Leave It’ sits in good company alongside the likes of Massive Wagons’ ‘Ratio’ Trucker Diablo’s ‘Let’s Just Ride’ or Theia’s ‘Home.’
Mid way through the album, ‘Peace of mind’ delivers a complete change of pace – a track that opens the album up, giving it more space and breadth. While SKAM is known to its loyal fans for up-tempo banging tunes, it’s the perhaps unexpected gems like ‘Pace of Mind’ that stand the band out and really showcase their underlying music talents. This song is subtle and exercises restraint – which makes its power all the more profound. For fans of ‘The Wire’ this new track will be a treat.
But there are more bangers to follow: ‘Two Worlds’ is a gutsy, direct heavy anthem that’s full of swagger and attitude. And ‘Bring the Rain’ extolls that special sound that’s pretty unique to a rock three-piece. With this track you can appreciate the way the musicians are working together to create their sound, something we referenced earlier in the year with our review of The Texas Flood album.
Next up. ‘Fading Before The Sun’ – an early single for the album which we played on six consecutive rock shows. The song went down well as a single, but it can be better appreciated here within the context and flow of the full album.
With ‘New Dawn’ SKAM has possibly saved the best ‘til last, a song that sums up well the spirit of the whole album, and which alone would work as a drive time belter for radio. The way albums start and finish matters, and with The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard, SKAM deliver in trumps on both counts.
There’s something about three pieces from the new generation of rock taking root across the UK at the moment. They produce a different sound and their albums have different feel: powerful, intense, a live feel to the albums and live shows where the music is both direct and vital. SKAM embody what is right with today’s young rock scene – and thanks to The Amazing Memoirs of Geoffrey Goddard they have just delivered their finest, most complete and most original album to date.
Following up this album won’t be easy. Let’s hope Mrs Goddard wrote some memoirs too!
The album is released on 17 November 2017.
Pre-order a copy of the album NOW!
Pre-order direct and support the band at http://skamuk.com
Other exclusive merch available includes artwork, signed calendars and posters, drum skins, VIP packages and album launch show tickets
Two Great Music Stories interview specials with the band will be airing in early November. For latest details check @GuyB_rockshow on Twitter
Forthcoming Live Dates Friday, 27 October 2017 – The Station, Cannock Friday, 17 November – The Musician, Leicester Sunday, 26 November – The Black Heart, Camden, London