Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Review: BlackSky - Of Sins and Shadows (2005)

BlackSky MySpace ]
...Of Sins and Shadows
(2005)
self-released


From the wilds of western Canada (Calgary, to be exact) comes a remarkable atmospheric metal band called BlackSky. Though the band has only been in existence a short while, the majority of the members have cut their teeth among the Calgary extreme metal scene in bands such as Thorazine, Verbal Deception, and Caveat. Thus their first demo, ...Of Sins and Shadows, is quite a polished 4-song example of atmospheric doom/Gothic metal. Founded by members of the death metal band Thorazine as a means to explore a more progressive outlet for their creativity, BlackSky does indeed offer up a wide range of metal influences in a well-rounded, cohesive package.


The death and black metal influences are most evident on the lead-off track (and coincidentally my least favorite of the demo), "Five Nights Waiting", which explodes with pummelling double-bass and hellish snarls from guitarist Greg Musgrave. Segmenting the brutal riffs are quieter passages in which frontwoman Kristen Martel sings in a clean, distinct contrast to the growls of the heavier parts. Kristen cites Tarja of Nightwish as an influence, and is in fact a classically trained singer herself, but she is much less operatic than Tarja. Nevertheless, Kristen has a more than adequate range to fully convey the power of the lyrics and compliment the varied moods of the music. Moving into the second track, "Redemption" is one of my two favorite tracks on ...Of Sins and Shadows. More emphasis is placed on creating guitar harmonies and keyboard atmospheres that reflect the Gothic and melodic elements to be found on the demo. Guitarist and co-founder Joe Sikorski lets loose with an exciting solo that blends magnificently with the rhythm patterns laid down by Casey Rogers and Lance Davis. This track also has one of the more memorable guitar/keyboard interplays to be found, enhancing the overall atmosphere of the song. Above the rest, my favorite track on ...Of Sins and Shadows is "Illumination & Shadow". Technically speaking, this track is actually the combination of "Illumination" and the instrumental "Shadow", but the transition is seamless and one feels integral to the other. Kristen puts in her best performance of the demo, reaching deep to extend her range and passionately deliver the lyrics. The song is filled with quality licks and riffs from the dual guitarists, bleeding over into the instrumental final moments of the track and bringing to mind similar guitar atmospherics from bands such as Amorphis and Sentenced.


...Of Sins and Shadows is actually a teaser for the soon to be released full-length album of the same name. As of this review, a release date has not been set. Based on the glimpse afforded me by this demo, I anticipate the album to have a significant impact on the atmospheric metal scene. Fans of bands like In Flames, Tristania, and Theatre of Tragedy should do themselves a favor and keep an eye out for BlackSky.


Track Listing
1Five Nights Waiting5:26
2Redemption6:18
3The Road Unwinds5:02
4Illumination & Shadows7:53



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