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.
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.
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%