Monday 31 August 2015

Skies Below - Aphelion (Album Review)

Release date: August 29th 2015. Label: Self Released. Formats: CD/DD

Aphelion: Tracklisting

1.The Avout 05:39
2.La Loba 06:00
3.Words that Stay 06:27
4.Reverend Mother Witch 04:20
5.Tyranny of an Object 04:35
6.Acquisition of Signal 00:30
7.Doorway_Descent_Dissolution 09:30

Band Members:

Liz Porcayo - Vocals
Daniel Sides - Guitar
Ryan Akin - Bass
Tim Strovas - Drums


Seattle Progressive Rock/Doom Metal unit – Skies Below – release their debut album – Aphelion. An intriguing mix of Progressive Rock and Doom Metal that creates quite an unforgiving album in tone and nature. Opening track – The Avout – centres on lead vocalist – Liz – whose powerful vocals that shows what a loud range she actually holds. The music switches from fast-paced Progressive Rock to the more slower gloomier style of Doom Metal which is becoming quite popular recently. If you dig Pallbearer and TOOL then you will find much to enjoy here as Skies Below create highly emotionally involved music.

Second track – La Loba – ventures into Psychedelic Space Rock territory with the atmosphere slowly building up with traces of dangerous noise never too far from the horizon. The riffs are superbly played but it's Liz intense vocals that's the star of the show as she sings in Spanish and even though I can't understand what she's singing it's still very heartfelt and powerful at the same time. The music is heavy and can become quite thunderous at times. It's good to see the band experimenting with their sound by including a jazz-influenced progressive metal sound near the end of the song. Very unexpected indeed.

Third track – Words That Stay – starts very slowly with traces of post-metal subtlety coming into the mix as the music once again builds to a loud volume of noise. Liz sings her heart out on this song and impresses yet again. Damn, she can really hold a high note. This spurs the rest of the band to create more progressive style Doom Metal riffs that makes Words That Stay one of the albums stand-out tracks. A perfect combination of vocals, melody and progressive doom based riffs.

Fourth track – Reverend Mother Witch – opens with an epic drone based noise before the creepy guitars start to appear. The atmosphere flits between Doom, Prog Rock and Post-Metal as the album becomes more emotionally involving with the riffs having a TOOL-esque identity to them.

Skies Below now decide to inject a dose of world-weary blues rock into the mix on fifth track – Tyranny Of An Object. This song has quite a different styles all vying for attention – Doom, Prog Rock, Post-Metal, Jazz and Blues. Now this could have failed spectacularly however Skies Below pull this off brilliantly as they prove their musical credentials for everyone to feel and hear.

Sixth track – Acquisition Of Signal – is a 30 second ambient drone based track. It's nothing more than a collection of strange noises. Possibly to give you time to catch your breath. As the final song is why you should buy this album for. I premièred this song on the blog last week and it's my favourite track from the album.

Doorway_Descent_Dissolution is 9:30 minutes of intense spaced-out trippy psychedelic progressive doom metal magic which shows why Skies Below are such a talent. Liz's dramatic and intense vocals matched against the sublime riffs that Skies Below have created. This is a loud and thunderous attack on the senses with the progressive doom metal sounds having a power all of their own. Skies Below call upon Andrew Chapman (Vocalist from Seattle Punk/Stoner Rockers – Princess) to provide great vocals of his own.

Aphelion is a strange as hell out of body experience that will have some people thinking – What the hell is this? - My advice, just enjoy the ride as this album is superb from start to finish. It sounds incredible which isn't surprising since the legendary Tad Doyle engineered, mixed and co-produced the album. If it's good enough for Tad Doyle then it's definitely good enough for you to check out.

Skies Below have delivered a master-class of progressive metal. Check it out now.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Skies Below for the promo. Aphelion is now available to buy on CD/DD.