Archive for prog metal

Sky Empire – The Dark Tower

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 20th November 2018 by mickbirchy

Sky Empire

The Dark Tower

Progressive Metal, Groove Rock

Released: 26th September 2018

via The Rock Company

I know I don’t cover progressive metal all that often. It’s just not a genre that captivates me in the right way. Sometimes a band comes along that can change your perception on a certain style of music. I will admit, I didn’t know all that much about Sky Empire before now and I don’t know too many people that do. Their debut album, The Dark Tower is pretty enjoyable. Mixing well-executed music with impactful story-telling, they have managed to create a fairly decent debut album. The band straddle the line between dynamic and creative instrumental prog-rock and more classic rock standards. It’s quite an interesting listening experience to be fair.

Right from the first song “Marionette” you get a sense of what to expect from the album. Multiple instrumental parts flowing into each other, dynamic musical parts and an intricate atmosphere. It all comes through quite well, musically. The technical ability on display is certainly impressive. I am amazed by how it all comes together. The production is pretty much on point, making sure every member of the band gets their licks in, and also providing a great balance between the excellent guitar and keyboard solos. All the while, the drums keep the creative pace going. I have to admit, I’m not a fan of the vocal performance as it doesn’t really match the music here. He has a well-toned voice, I can’t think of any flubbed notes or anything, but it just doesn’t work for me personally. The rough and deep tone never really fits in with the style. Also, when he tries to hit the higher notes it sounds like he’s straining his voice.

Whilst everything here is certainly impressive, and it is, there’s nothing that really sticks to my imagination. There are prog bands that really stick in my head and there are ones that don’t. Sky Empire, sadly fall into the latter. I appreciate the musicianship on display and I respect the multiple parts, the rising and falling tone and the solos… Yes, it’s all so glorious. However, it’s not something that I think I would choose to return to, and I listen to bands like Iron Butterfly and Ex Libris for fun. There just needs to be more polish to the presentation and the overall style.

It’s a decent record and they’re clearly talented. As I’ve mentioned, the musicianship is out of this world. The album certainly has its rough spots as well, with the drums feeling a little muted here and there and the aforementioned issues I have with the vocals. There are some things they do incredibly well, such as the riff and solo work, building an atmospheric tone and keeping a tight performance through multiple (and often frenetic) parts. I just would have liked to have heard a little more polish in the production. I liked the time I spent with the record but I have no real desire to return to it.

2/5

Mick Birchall

Advertisements

Chapters – The Imperial Skies

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 24th May 2015 by mickbirchy

Chapters
“The Imperial Skies”
Progressive Metal

Released on 14th October 2013
Self Released

The Imperial Skies is brought to us by an awesome young British band called Chapters. Formed by Joe Nally and Angus Neyra of Hang The Bastard, I was already expecting top quality, as they are one of my favourite British bands that are going.  Yet, this is a far departure from the sound of HTB.  This is more of a tech/prog metal sound mixed with elements of hardcore.  It’s one of the more unique listening experiences I’ve had.

Straight from the get go, the album shows of the skill and sheer talent of the band.  The guitar skill is excellent with mind blowing licks, skill riffs and fun melodies.  The bass line are thick and compliment the songs melodies and harmonies beautifully.  The harsh tones are great, providing intensity and energy into the record.  The production of the record is awesome and mixed well. Not one element feels like it’s taking precedence over the others and it comes together really well.  Musically this album is all over the place, you can hear influence from all corners of the metal and rock globe.  In that sense this is a musicians band, as the more you understand about music the more enjoyable this album becomes. Not to say you can’t enjoy it if you’re not a musician, but it definitely helps.

As I’ve said, the album ranges but keeps within the theme of tech/prog metal. However, the hardcore elements of this record are fantastic; being a long time fan of the genre, I identified with these elements. They just have a real bite to them. It keeps you interested as a listener whilst the the more tech/prog elements take you on a journey through the songs.  I usually look for riffs on heavy albums but there aren’t any to speak of here. Yet, there are some cool riffy moments that certainly captured my imagination.

Songs I’ll recommend to you from this record are the title track “The Imperial Skies” (this one has a load of transitions and feels like the track that takes the most risks and shows off the band’s style) and “The Siren” (which is a fantastic tune with a load a heavy nail biting moments).

Overall, yeah, this is a solid record, you guys need to listen to it.  Really fun, heavy, interesting band.

4/5

Mick Birchall