Forbidden Seasons—Promise (2018)

Cover shows a golden moth on a black background

Forbidden Seasons—Promise (2018)

Details

Debut album recorded at Heavy Tone Studios in Turin. Mixed and mastered by Studio Fredman (Architects, Blood Youth).  Released on 16 March 2018, distributed via This Is Core.

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Band

  • Mark Seasons—Vocals
  • Symon Ray—Lead guitar
  • Danny Ghale—Rhythm guitar
  • Paul J Price—Bass guitar
  • Federico Spagnoli—Drums and keyboards

Tracks

  1. Atlantis
  2. Thank you for the venom
  3. Keys and locks
  4. Gravity fall
  5. Wormhole
  6. The human
  7. Sorrow won’t end
  8. I’ve seen the end in your eyes
  9. The rejected
  10. Promise

Review

Founded in Turin, Italy in 2015, metalcore quintet Forbidden Seasons released their first EP Paramnesia in 2017 and have followed up this year with this, their debut album. Five individuals, the press release says, who came together simply to fulfil their dreams to play music. Good on them.

The band’s name, they say is about discrimination and a general lack of half measures in society today. “Everything is completely bad or good, black or white. There’s no space for grey anymore. Forbidden Seasons, it’s like forbidden feelings, forbidden thoughts, forbidden actions, forbidden goals…”

Lyrically, the album addresses topics such as anger, apathy, loneliness and misplaced trust.

Opening track “Atlantis” (track 1) opens with an atmospheric sound effect and then an electronic riff before the band kicks in with an undisputed metalcore-by-numbers riff: blast beat drums, staccato guitars, and alternating screaming and melodic vocals. “I feel myself going down” Seasons sings to himself about halfway through in a quiet interlude. As opening tracks go, it certainly sets out the intentions of the album. It also reveals the production of the album, which is a little light on mids and bass for modern tastes.

Thank you for the venom” (track 2) picks up where “Atlantis” left off. About a minute into this song I found myself wondering if this really was a different track. I quite like the chorus though, it’s melodic and catchy. But the song does sound a bit formulaic. The video (below) features Suicide Girl Riae, apparently.

Keys and locks” (track 3) was released as a single on 12 February 2018 (my late dad’s birthday). The song, vocalist Seasons explains, is dedicated to himself as a reminder to keep believing and not count on others. “I wrote this song thinking about people living their lives constantly looking for answers,” he said. “I don’t believe in fate, but I think it’s the willpower in all of us to define the path we want to take. The answer to all our existential questions is within us, this song is an incentive to stay strong and keep going on with the head held high in this drifting world.”

Top tip: don’t do as I did and listen to “Gravity fall” (track 4) alone in a dark room for the first time. The intro has a horror-like, blood curdling screech that scared the living daylights out of me. That aside, the song is decent enough. It just doesn’t add very much new to the mix. Unfortunately, by this point in the album everything is beginning to sound very samey.

Wormhole” (track 5) follows the same trajectory. The cookie monster-style vocals do drop to a lower pitch, which shakes things up a bit, as does a descending keyboard pad about two-thirds of the way through, but otherwise it’s Forbidden Seasons-by-numbers once again.

The human” (track 6)  opens with a nice atmospheric guitar arpeggio and thumping drums. It’s somewhere between Iron Maiden’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and anything from Evanescence. To be honest, I don’t think this song really needs gruff vocals—Seasons’ singing is good enough to carry this song. The variety, though, is enough to pique my interest again.

Sorrow won’t end” (track 7) opens with a brutal riff, once of the heaviest on the album. The song thumps along at the same pace as the others but seems to hold a greater sense of urgency. The chorus is quite catchy.

Forbidden Seasons, promo photo 2018

Forbidden Seasons, promo photo 2018

I’ve seen the end in your eyes” (track 8) and it sounds just the same as pretty much every other song on this album. It is well played and masterfully engineered but there’s nothing new. It follows the same template as every other decent metalcore song: crunching, bouncing riffs, vocals alternating between light and dark, dropping to a melancholic and ponderous middle-eight before seeing itself out the way it arrived.

And then “The rejected” (track 9) begins and finally offers something new: a piano and strings introduction that… quickly reverts to a well-trodden groove. Strings and electronic ‘doodles’ are sprinkled here and there throughout the song which does offer something interesting but I fear that it may be too little, too late. It is one of my favourite tracks on the album, though.

Title track “Promise” (track 10) closes the album, short as it is at 37 minutes and 35 seconds. It opens with Elliot’s ‘religion speech’ in Mr Robot (season 2, episode 3) and returns to it during quieter moments throughout the track. It’s a good song, well balanced and contemplative. It’s a shame they kept this to the end, it’s maybe one of the best songs on the album.

Conclusion

As I was listening to this album for the umpteenth time, I was reading and article in A List Apart, a blog about web development that said this:

In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon argues that smart artists don’t actually create anything new but rather collect inspiring ideas from specific role models, and produce work that is profoundly shaped by them.

If we’re free from the burden of trying to be completely original,” he writes, “we can stop trying to make something out of nothing, and we can embrace influence instead of running away from it.

(Source: “Order out of chaos” by Richard Rabil, Jr. in A List Apart)

I struggled to find anything inherently new in Promises by Forbidden Season but that’s perhaps missing the point. The band members got together to create music in which they combine their unique influences and create something that is new for them.

Sure, the songs mostly sound very same-y but listen closely and there are some beautiful moments in this release, the title track I found quite haunting. It certainly shows promise and I have found it to be a good album to work to without being distracted.

Review score: 65%

Cove—A Conscious Motion EP (2018)

Cove—A Conscious Motion EP (2018)

Cove—A Conscious Motion EP (2018)

Details

Self-released sophomore EP.  Recorded at Hidden Track Studios. Produced by Oz Craggs. Released on 23 March 2018.

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Band

  • Ben Shorten—Vocals
  • Pete Woolven—Guitar
  • Charlie Smith—Bass
  • Jack Bowdery—Drums

Tracks

  1. Coincide: Collide
  2. Solis
  3. All I Believe
  4. Host
  5. Reflect: Resolve

Review

I have this strange relationship with metalcore. At its heart it’s a fusion of extreme metal and hardcore punk: two genres that I love. But I still struggle to wholeheartedly embrace metalcore. I know it’s because of the brash, uncontrolled and shout-y vocals—like a small dog yapping over a kick-ass punk metal band. Give me a Michael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) death metal growl any day, or a Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) bark. But there is just something about the rah-rah-rah-rah nature of the typical metalcore singer that just grates with me.  That said, if you look back at the metalcore albums I’ve reviewed on 195 Metal CDs you’ll see that they have averaged 74%, so there must be something there that I like.

Cove—as you will have no doubt guessed by now—are a British metalcore band who hale from Kent, the garden of England: home of the iconic white cliffs of Dover; the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury (the leader of the Church of England); and the country through which the rail track to the channel tunnel ploughs itself.

According to guitarist Pete Woolven, Cove set out to write a personal and cathartic EP that was uniquely Cove that didn’t sound like any other heavy band at present. “We wrote A Conscious Motion with a view to writing an EP of songs for ourselves that  were cathartic and personal. It deals with the struggles of members within the band, dealing with losing everything that you once lived for, to watching a part of someone else you love fade away.”

Coincide: Collide (track 1)

The EP begins relatively gently with the opening rim-shots of “Coincide: Collide” (track 1) building with a single-note bass, joined shortly after with a full-on, full-sweep, punk-style guitar riff. New singer Ben Shorten’s vocals are initially melodic until the band hits full stride in the chorus and Shorten reveals his obligatory metalcore holler. As songs go it has pace and dynamics, but predictably I find the uncontrolled shouting to be its weakest point—the harmonious accompanying vocal melodies redeem the song a little providing new layers and interest.

Solis (track 2)

Solis” (track 2) hits the ground spitting out the lyrics, “This is the beginning of this story / It started from an end / After broken choices / It’s time to amend”. It’s shouted. Most of the song is shouted. And I know that’s the metalcore way—I’ve already said that—but… anyway, the music is great: start-stop riffs that pulse like a sinister heartbeat. The production is clear and well balanced.

All I Believe (track 3)

All I Believe” (track 3) has a very gentle and delicate feel to begin with until it suddenly bursts with energy. This is probably my favourite song on the EP. It has a really nice dynamic, it builds and falls, and has a nice contrast of dark and light moments. There is a passion behind the lyrics, and some lovely instrumental moments: chugging bass guitar, flurries of distorted guitar breaking up otherwise regular-paced riffs. And Shorten’s shouting vocals are pitched, like shouted singing, which makes such a difference and takes the song to new levels.

The shortest track on the EP by far is the 1′ 29″ instrumental “Host” (track 4). It opens with a recording of what sounds like a NASA conversation between Houston and a space craft; it’s reminiscent a little of Celtic Frost’s “One in their pride” from Into the Pandemonium (1987). The music is gentle, pulsing and atmospheric. It’s a pity the track isn’t longer, I could listen to music like this all day.

EP closer “Reflect: Resolve” (track 5) ups the pace again. It leans heavily on a catchy, bouncing riff that morphs a little towards the end of the track as it slows down and simplifies. This is a well composed song that beautifully showcases many aspects of Cove’s musicianship and song-writing skills: it has a little bit of everything for everyone without diluting who they are.

Conclusion

Whether Cove achieved their goal of writing something that doesn’t sound like anything else out there at the moment, I’m not sure. But they have certainly penned an EP that has integrity and personality. I like the dynamics present in most of the songs, and appreciate that vocalist Ben Shorten does go a little off-piste with the usual metalcore shout-fest which positively takes the songs to new levels.

Personally, I preferred the final three tracks but if that’s any indication of the quality of music we should expect to hear from Cove in the future then British metal fans definitely have something good to look forward to.

Review score: 80%

Disclaimer

I kindly received this EP to review from Inception Press, an artist-friendly, UK-based, independent, alternative music publicity and management agency. I didn’t get paid for this review but I do get to the keep the EP. I am not linked to either Cove or Inception Press.

PREVIEW: From Eden to Exile—Modern Disdain (2017)

From Eden to Exile—Modern Disdain (2017)

From Eden to Exile—Modern Disdain (2017)

Details

Debut album produced by Neil Hudson (Krysthla/Gutworm) at Initiate Audio and Media. Released on Attic Records/PHD. Released Friday 2 June 2017.

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Band

  • Matt Dyne—Vocals
  • Tom Kelland—Guitars
  • Mike Bell—Guitars
  • Joey Jaycock—Bass
  • Liam Turland —Drums

Tracks

  1. Gospel untold
  2. Modern disdain
  3. Volatile
  4. Victim
  5. The dreamer
  6. From Eden to exile
  7. What you’ve done
  8. Sentiment

Review

Having won the Corby finals of Bloodstock’s ‘Metal 2 the Masses’ competition in 2015, Northampton metallers From Eden to Exile appeared that year on the Bloodstock “New Blood” stage. Since then they seem to have gone from strength to strength, having been taken under the wing by Krysthla (and former Gutworm) guitarist and producer Neil Hudson to help produce this storming modern British metal album.

When asked about the experience vocalist Matt Dyne said, “It’s been an extraordinary time. We’ve taken our time and sweated bullets nailing this album to the point where everyone in the band can honestly look each other in the eye and confidently state this is the best of us, right now.”

“Yet there’s much more in the tank”, continued guitarist Tom Kelland, “Working with Neil [Hudson] at Initiate really opened our minds as to the possibilities with our music. The boxes we may have felt confined to in the past have been stripped away and we firmly believe we’ve got something really solid to offer the metal community.”

And it certainly shows.

From Eden to standing in a field

From Eden to standing in a field

I’ve been listening to this album off and on for the last couple of months and it’s really hard to fault. Modern Disdain is a solid album with enough certainly to keep me interested. Musically this album sits somewhere on the border between Lamb of God’s flavour of American groove metal and metalcore.

An almighty battering of the snare drum, barked lyrics, and a riff played at breakneck speed, “Gospel untold” (track 1) kicks off this album, as so many track 1s do. It reminds me very much of something from one of the early Lamb of God albums, until about 1′ 20″ when with a curt chugga-chugga the pace changes slightly and veers off into a more metalcore neighbourhood. I love the guitar solo on this song. It is rich and warm, it sours and adds something melodically beautiful to the soundtrack to the apocalypse that is raging beneath it.

Title track “Modern disdain” (track 2) opens with quite an acid, sour disharmony. Its stop-start metalcore riff morphs into an almost Exodus-style riff but with deep, Chuck Billy (Testament)-style, growling vocal. There are so many influences within this track but as a whole the song doesn’t feel contrived or stolen. Another soaring guitar solo marks the descent towards the track’s end.

“Volatile” (track 3) is another super-fast track that initially has quite a Slayer vibe to it. You can watch the video, below. About 1′ 25″, though, the sound gets stripped back to just a riff, and then gradually builds, steering towards a very shouty-metalcore sound, before returning to its original, galloping behemoth of a riff.

Track 4, “Victim” takes a different approach to what has come before. It has an almost epic, traditional heavy metal opening—think Powerslave-era Iron Maiden. It builds gradually, it has melody, duelling guitars. It then switches step into a metalcore gallop that weaves in and out of a Low-era Testament style riff. Overall, the track holds itself together but it doesn’t quite seem to understand itself. Maybe I’m wrong and I’ll return to this track in a few months with some kind of blinding epiphany, but having lived with it for a couple of months it, unfortunately, feels like one of the weaker songs on the album. I do rather like the start-stop descending riff outro, though.

“The dreamer” (track 5) is built around an old-school thrash style riff or two. It’s the shortest track on the album, but it gets in there, does its job, and gets out again.

Of bands that have songs titles that are the same as their band name, off the top of my head, I can think of only Iron Maiden and Motörhead. And now “From Eden to exile” (track 6). Unfortunately, this isn’t the most iconic track on the album. It doesn’t have the same punch or drive as any of the tracks on the first half of the album—it feels, sadly, like a bit of an album filler.

“What you’ve done” (track 7) picks up the pace, with a handful of galloping riffs that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Slayer record. About a third of the way through, it drops to a halftime tempo and a Pantera-style arpeggio that in the 90s would undoubtedly have been accompanied by a rich, deep voice spoken over the top of it. Each time I listen to this track I find myself grumbling some made-up metal nonsense libretto over the top of this passage. Back to the main riff, fade to black…

Album closer, “Sentiment” (track 8) is a strong track. It has a bit more urgency and drive than the rest of the second half of this album. It’s also one of the most Lamb of God-sounding tracks on the album, which is perhaps why it’s one of my favourites.

Conclusion

This album is, for me at least, very much a game of two halves. The first four tracks are really strong, and while I’m not a massive fan of metalcore—although I do love thrash and hardcore separately—From Eden to Exile do steer their sound close enough to thrash for me to really appreciate it.

What lets things down for me a bit is the second half of the album. While the songs, for the most part are still strong and interesting, they seem to lose focus a little around tracks six and seven. Thankfully, things are brought back into line with the final track on the album which closes the work nicely.

Overall, though, this is an album that I could quite happily return to again and again. This album is proof that metal isn’t dead yet, that it still relevant, and that British bands still have a lot to give.

From Eden to Exile are definitely a band to keep an eye on in the future, both live and recorded.

Review score: 90%

Bonus video

Disclaimer

Stampede Press UK contacted me a few months back, inviting me to preview From Eden to Exile’s forthcoming debut album.

I have no connections to either Stampede Press UK or From Eden to Exile. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review—which is pretty cool.

Many thanks to Rob from Stampede Press UK, and From Eden to Exile.

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Twelve Tribes—The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004)

Details

Recorded in January 2004 at Trax East. Engineered and mixed by Eric Rachel. Produced by Eric Rachel and Twelve Tribes. Additional engineering by Eric Kvortek. Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music.

Wikipedia

Band

  • Adam Jackson—Vocals
  • Kevin Schindel—Guitar and vocals
  • Andrew Corpus—Guitar
  • Matt Tackett—Bass
  • Shane Shook—Drums

Tracks

  1. Post replica
  2. Baboon music
  3. Translation of fixes
  4. Venus complex
  5. Backburner
  6. Chroma
  7. The train bridge
  8. Godshaped war
  9. Luma
  10. Flight of the pathogen

Review

Twelve Tribes were a metalcore band from Dayton, Ohio. The Rebirth of Tragedy (2004) was their second album, and third release after 2000’s Instruments EP.

Their sound is very much metalcore (metal fused with hardcore punk) with more than a handful of other influences thrown in for good measure, not least of all Rage Against  the Machine.

The album opens with “Post repulica” (track 1) a twisting riff that soon opens up to a metalcore shout-fest. This is the thing that I really can’t connect with easily in metalcore: the incessant shouting. But it’s not that I can’t stand shouting in music, it’s this particular style of shouting.

But the riffs are good. “Baboon music” (track 2) has a storming riff: fat and bouncing. But by track 3, “Translation of fixes”, I’m beginning to wonder if Twelve Tribes are simply recycling the same riff again and again.

Track 4, “Venus complex”. Nope: different riff. Plus some exotic scales.

The rest of the album is in a similar vein. Fairly generic metalcore riffs with the kind of screamed vocals that I just don’t connect with. “Godshaped war” (track 8) feels like the mirror reflection of “Venus complex”; Penultimate track “Luma” (track 9) is perhaps the most melodic on the album, and turns out to be my favourite.

Conclusion

With my appreciation of good ole new wave of American  heavy metal and hardcore, you would think that metalcore would be right up my street. So would I, but oddly it’s not.

Sadly, then, this album didn’t really resonate with me. Sorry guys, I tried and wanted to enjoy it more than I did.

Review score: 60%

Raise the Dead—Hymns of War (2005)

Raise the Dead—Hymns of War (2005)

Raise the Dead—Hymns of War (2005)

Details

Mixed, mastered and brutalized by Stu McKan and Jamie Graham. Recorded at Studio 6, Wooton Bassett, England. Released on Thirty Days of Night Records in 2005.

Band

  • Dean of the Dead—Vocals
  • Jamie Graham—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Khaled Lowe—Guitars and backing vocals
  • Chris Varnham—Bass
  • Chris Claydove—Drums

Tracks

  1. Prelude to war
  2. Zone of magical immunity
  3. Warcraft
  4. The curse of years
  5. Sea of dead souls
  6. Cloak of mist

Review

It feels like an age since I’ve mentioned CD packaging, so let’s start there. The front cover, as you can see from above, features a very beige-dominant mediaeval battle scene; assuming that the crusaders fought armies of skeletons. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more than a little Tolkien influence here with his armies of the dead from The Lord of the Rings.

What I really like, though is the booklet which has the feel of a stylised Book of Kells, like an illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages. The first five pages contain song lyrics, resplendent in a thankfully-readable Old English style typeface; the last page lists thanks.

Hymns of War in a mediaeval style

Hymns of War in a mediaeval style

Of course, the booklet looks more like a ye olde gospel than a hymn book but we’ll let that one pass. It does look fab and it’s nice to see the band putting in some thought about the packaging. It’s just a shame that (and this is obviously entirely subjective) the art quality in the cover doesn’t match that of the booklet. It would have been great to have the two tie-in much more than they do.

Anyway, it’s the music we’re really interested in.

Raise the Dead were a thrash / death / metalcore band from London/Peterborough between 2004 and 2006. They released only two records in their three years: a three-track demo, Famous Last Words, in September 2004 and this six track EP in December 2005. The only common track was “Warcraft”.

The album opens with an atmospheric track (“Prelude to war”) of monastic chant interrupted from time to time by peals of thunder and a continuously ringing bell. When the chanting ends, footsteps lead to a single note, more thunder and the gentle growl of who knows what monster.

“Zone of magical immunity” (track 2) is a fast paced death metal song. The guitars have a pleasing overdriven tone, double-kick drums underpin the rhythm and Dean of the Dead’s guttural vocals sound terrifically meaty—it’s not just uncontrolled screaming. There are certainly enough dynamics within the song to hold interest. It almost has a progressive metal feel to it.

“Warcraft” (track 3) offers more of the same, the whole song built around a very death metal lead guitar riff. Towards the end the track slows right down into an almost sludge metal-style riff. Curiously track 4, “The curse of years”, follows exactly the same recipe right down to the sludge style stomp towards the close.

“Sea of dead souls” (track 5) opens with a very Annihilator-style arpeggio riff that reappears throughout the song. Thankfully this song closes differently with a very Slayer-like screaming and diving solo: fast and tight right to the end.

The closing song, “Cloak of mist” (track 6) is perhaps the most death metal song on the EP, both musically and lyrically. It’s a study in hatred. “Hate is a strong word / but I feel it for you / I should have buried you in a ditch / the day you were born”.

“Cloak of mist” is probably the strongest song on the album and I can’t help wondering if it indicates the direction that Raise the Dead would have taken had they not split nearly ten years ago. Perhaps we’ll never know.

Conclusion

All in all, this was a pretty solid debut EP from a UK extreme metal band. I really can’t help feel anything but admiration for the band and the recording. It’s by no means perfect but it is pretty darn good none-the-less. They certainly showed promise. Wherever you are now guys, I raise a glass to you—I can’t quite manage raising the dead.

Review score: 85%

BONUS: Siderian—Cancel Your Future EP (2015)

Siderian—Cancel Your Future EP (2015)

Siderian—Cancel Your Future EP (2015)

Details

Siderian are Northamptonshire-based metal band formed in March 2015. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Neil Hudson at Initiate Audio and Media in July 2015. Released 18 September 2015.

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Band

Siderian

Siderian

  • Dave Pope—Vocals
  • Kyle Ainsworth—Guitar
  • Piotr Lukasik—Bass
  • Mike Wilson—Drums

Tracks

  1. (The) small house
  2. Reduced aisle
  3. Hell of a week
  4. Limb efficiency

Review

This EP was kindly sent to me for review back in September but as things were personally going south for me around that time this has sat in my email inbox until now. Which is a real shame because this is a pretty great EP from a new British metalcore band hailing from Northamptonshire, England.

The EP comprises four tracks recorded in July 2015 with Neil Hudson (Krysthla, ex-Gutworm) and to be honest it did take me a few listens to get into it, as I don’t really listen to much metalcore, but I’m really glad I put in the time. This is a very impressive EP.

“(The) small house” (track 1) kicks the EP off in quite an understated but none-the-less rather majestic way, taking about a minute to get going. Dave Pope sings in a typical gruff metalcore style somewhere between a growl and a scream.

“Reduced aisle” (track 2) opens with a single guitar riff, that is soon mirrored by bass as the kick drum keeps the beat. The song has a mid-pace stomp, slows right down to a ponderous guitar riff in the middle before building again to blast its way home.

“Hell of a week” (track 3) begins with a very punk-sounding chord progression hammered out on guitar. Bass and drums bounce along beneath it. This is one of the more melodic songs on the EP, probably the most catchiest.

“Limb efficiency” (track 4) has a driving groove that I imagine sounds killer live. I particularly like the dynamics of the song as it speeds up and slows down throughout, and I love the bass guitar sound which unpins the song and doesn’t get lost in the mix.

Conclusion

All in all a pretty solid debut performance from Siderian. It’s great to hear new British bands with such energy and drive and talent. More of this please…

Review score: 85%

Open The Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Open the Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Open The Skies—Conspiracies (2007)

Details

Produced by Mark Daghorn, Karl Groom, and Open The Skies. Engineered by Mark Daghorn and Karl Groom. Recorded at Red House Farm and Thin Ice Studios. Mixed by Karl Groom at Thin Ice Studios. Mastered by Dave Aston at The Digital Audio Co.

Band

  • Josh McKeown—Vocals
  • Steve Lumley—Guitar and vocals
  • Kieran  Brannigan—Guitar and vocals
  • Jamie Willis—Bass
  • Chris Velissarides—Drums

Tracks

  1. Intro
  2. A silent decade
  3. Fear has no voice
  4. Keiko’s last smile
  5. He spoke of success
  6. Interlude
  7. Silhouettes on street corners
  8. Change
  9. So season two
  10. Just for you
  11. Yours faithfully
  12. We could have had it all
  13. A second from insanity
  14. Reduced and charming

Review

Open The Skies sounds to me to be very much in the post-nu-metal, post-emo “screamo” or metalcore genre. They seem to have a foot in both hardcore punk and metal. In the early 80s a similar fusion took bands in the direction of thrash, these days it seems to lead them into the realms of metalcore.

After an initial twenty seconds or so of sound effects this album blasts into life with a terrific pounding riff, a tremendous over-driven guitar tone, and a nice melody. After that sadly the album peaks a few songs in and, with a few exceptions, the album sees itself out with a collection of homogeneous, screamo-by-numbers tracks.

“A silent decade” (track 2) pretty much contains everything that could be really great about this album. It has power, it has delicacy, it has the riffs, it has dynamics, it has a fusion of clean and screamed vocals. “Fear has no voice” (track 3) follows a similar winning recipe. The highlight for me in this song is the stop/start bouncing passage where the band sings as a chorus.

The trouble with much of this album is so much of it sounds the same. For example, listen to “So season two” (track 9) and then jump to almost anywhere in “Keiko’s last smile” (track 4) and it sounds as though you are on exactly the same song. Which is, of course, a credit to the guitar tuning, the recording engineering and mixing, but it doesn’t really make for a particularly interesting album.

And it’s not just those two songs. You can quite easily jump between tracks and you begin to see the whole album as modular. It’s like a box of audio LEGO pieces that can be interchanged between sets.

“Interlude” (track 6) is a rather beautiful short song that breaks the homogeneity. But after that break it’s back to the recipe.

Another break to the advertised programme is “Yours faithfully” (track 11) which is an acoustic song that reminds me in equal parts of early Manic Street Preachers and Soul Asylum.

Curiously, the closing track “Reduced and charming” (track 14)  seems to be more in keeping with the first couple of tracks than the filler in the middle, including an all-band-singing-in-chorus section.

Conclusion

Despite its very promising opening this album suffers primarily from a lack of ideas. I think this album could have benefited greatly from being significantly shorter, compiling the best ideas into few songs and focussing on those.

As it is most of this album sounds like the same song sung with eight sets of lyrics. If I feel compelled to listen to this album again I may simply create my own EP from the six remaining songs that hold some interest for me.

I believe that this is Open The Skies’ debut album. As debuts go it is certainly promising. The musicianship and song-writing are certainly strong, in my opinion the music could just benefit from a few more ideas and variety.

Review score: 60%