(TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by the UK/Ireland band Shattered Skies.)
I was rabidly a fan of Shattered Skies’ debut EP Reanimation back in 2011. Their odd djent-meets-heavier-power-metal like Symphony X and Evergrey style made them really stick out to me. I’ve waited FOREVER for these guys to put out a full-length, and I was honestly wondering if they ever would. The World We Used To Know completely blew away my expectations for a debut from them, and it’s a definite surprise first highlight of 2015.
The grooves on this record are like getting hit by concrete-filled boxing gloves, but it’s all punctuated by some absolutely angelic, infectious, and overwhelming vocal melodies, along with stellar keyboard and string incorporations.
Shattered Skies play power metal, but it’s a uniquely different kind. It’s groove-driven by an eight-string guitar attack courtesy of maestro Ian Rocket, who embellishes his riffing with flavors of funk and swing, with the typical djent syncopation to mix things up. Every single moment of guitar on The World We Used To Know is just plain cool. It’s all very stylish, yet crafted with an intelligent simplicity.
Ian Rockett is a guitarist who will prove to stick out among his peers. He’s got a unique style all his own built on the djent template, but he’s almost like a guitarist who treats his instrument like a technically proficient bass player. Everything about his performance feels like it’s steeped in the technical end of bass playing more than being a guitarist. He does solos, and he definitely riffs, but it sounds nothing like conventional guitar riffing, even for low-tuned eight-string convention.
It’s odd that Rockett’s guitar playing drives the music in its particular style, since the band has a bass player in Jim Hughes who serves less of that foundational bass role and instead serves to add texture to the music. He brings punch and heft behind Rockett’s eight-string nukes, but also deviates quite a bit to add some really odd lower- and higher-register counterpoint that works quite well. Drummer Ross McMahon is really impressive, too, dropping down megaton grooves, one after another, knowing exactly how to accentuate the riffs. The drum and guitar performances are as two snakes intercoiling with each other.
Vocalist Sean Murphy, though, even above Ian Rockett, is who makes this band. Embodying a more powerful, less nasally, less (quite frankly) whiney James LaBrie, his voice tonality is not only excellent but his vocal melodies are inspiring. His vocal texturing, rhythms, and harmony choices really complete the sonic landscapes. Shattered Skies music would be lacking in a lot of ways if it didn’t have his vocals over it, as great as the instrumental side of the band is.
This is definitely different, and I think Shattered Skies has something going that is, I dare say, rather original. I’m gonna embed the singles that preceded the album release as well as the full album stream. If you’ve ever liked the idea of power metal driven by low-tuned syncopated grooves, I’d definitely recommend listening to this. I’m addicted, and it’s already one of my favorite albums of the new year. It’s a perfect, flawless album if you like what’s going on here.