Dark Sky Choir | Dark Sky Choir Album Review June 2017

Dark Sky Choir | Dark Sky Choir 

Label: Unsigned/Independent
Release Year: 2017
Country: USA
Genre: Heavy Metal/Prog Related

 

Band Members

Hollywood How – Vocals
Fred Gorhau – Guitars
Joe Stabile – Bass
Mike James Sakowski – Drums

 

Track Listing

Death Of A Nation
Like It Or Not
Walking By Myself
Die Young (Maybe He Wanted To)
The End
The Sails Of Charon **
Cry For The Legions
Show No Mercy
Bedouin Caravan

 

Contact Links 

Dark Sky Choir Official Website

Dark Sky Choir Official Facebook Page

Dark Sky Choir Official Twitter

Dark Sky Choir Official YouTube Channel

 

When I first heard that The Wizards Of Winters’ guitarist Fred Gorhau was going to be putting together a project that would allow him to leave the ‘Christmas Time Only’ cocoon I was elated. I was also in a bit of anticipation of the unknown. To be honest I had only heard him in The Wizards Of Winters and Trans Siberian Orchestra. With his new project Dark Sky Choir it is a return to force of quality old school prog related heavy metal with a very modern and contemporary twist to it.

Make no mistake about it Dark Sky Choir are NOT a reflection or a re-visitation of what is now termed ‘Hair Metal’. I mean back in the day we all had hair whether we were thrash, glam, death, power, progressive or black metal with the exceptions of Rob Halford, Graham Bonnet or UDO Dirkschneider ex- Accept. If there is any visitation of the past with Dark Sky Choir it is the mentality of when bands were out drawing and designing their own fliers to have them wrapped around the local telephone poles of the vicinity of the local club or venue for the show promoted.

‘To you millennials who only know of and rely on photo-shop there was a time when we actually hand drew up fliers and printed them out in mass.’ We did not sit at home on a computer and hope people would show up.’

Dark Sky Choir also is a legitimate reminder that no matter how metal changes and evolves it will always return to its roots. Joining Fred Gorhau on this run are Hollywood How – Vocals, Joe Stabile – Bass and Mike James Sakowski – Drums. There is also a certain creative democracy going on with the album because the listener can hear every instrument come through where they properly need to. This may be a new concept to those millennials who have bought into a cheapened form of compressed music for entertainment. The guitar, the bass and the drums are all allowed to breathe and be heard. Hollywood How -Vocals is also allowed to be heard and tell a actual story with the lyrical content instead of it only serving as background noise or instrumental elements. Yes the album is a return to common sense straight away metal performed with a hint of the progressive.

Yes this is a album that is also a triumphant return to the verse/bridge/chorus/solo that metal enjoyed in the 1980’s and early 1990’s here in America. It is also a return of the style of music you would see on MTV instead of shitty and cheesy reality programs that make no sense whatsoever. Now some brief highlights from every track.

Death Of A Nation

The track Death of A Nation is both a track laden with progressive tendencies met with some heavy social commentary. Hollywood How – Vocals soars up into ranges that are explored by Rob Halford, David Coverdale and Primal Fear’s Ralph Scheepers. Fred Gorhau – Guitars shows us a entirely other dimension of his playing. This is a dimension that is more straight away progressive hard rock/heavy metal than what we have been accustomed to hearing in his other outfit The Wizards of Winter. There is also some powerful spoken word element on this track as well.

Like It Or Not

This track fades in a frenzy of a heavy distorted rhythm based chord progression. It has the signature verse/bridge/chorus with great raunchy heavy instrumental passages in harmony with the high end vocals. The guitar solo really shines through with a wonderful melody from the rhythm section.

Walking By Myself

This track here is the standard ballad. For those who were not there or this is still alien to you, the power ballad usually showed up on a album around the second, third or fourth song into the album. It standard ballad fashion this opens up with a beautiful lush acoustic guitar to create a more classical chord progression. The band does a great job painting a beautiful guitar oriented atmosphere for the ballads lyrical content. The guitar solo is spot on with the instrumental off the atmospheric layers.

Die Young (Maybe He Wanted To)

This one is almost a straight away power metal track. Its charging and galloping guitar in harmony with a rather fast bass/drum rhythm section really establish it as one of the faster and heavier songs on the album. In the midst of the fast chord progressions there are some breaks to take the song into a heavier layer. The guitar solo reminds me a lot of Uriah Heep meets Iron Maiden. There are some layers of progressive metal sprinkled throughout this track. The backing vocals serve more as a echo vocal than melodic vocal.

The End

This one starts off on a more old school doom metal chord progressive passage. It contains some very heavy handed and deep doom like rhythm section between the bass/drum/guitar. Even the lyrical content reminds me more of a Black Sabbath Children Of The Grave. The guitar channels Tony Iommi quite well. The bleak instrumental definitely works in perfect harmony with the brooding lyrical material. Part of me feels like I am listening to Trouble meets Iron Maiden on this one. This is definitely a unique tribute of original material to Black Sabbath.

The Sails Of Charon

This one opens up with a blistering down tuned guitar passage. There are breaks in between the rhythm section and the lead guitar. Those breaks allow the song to breathe and grow into itself naturally. A lot this track reminds me a lot of Savatage’s Hall Of The Mountain King both instrumentally and lyrically. The vocals even soar like Jon Oliva’s at times.

Cry For The Legions

This opens up with a blistering thunderous frenzy of layer upon layers in the chord progressions. This track is very heavily progressive induced with the way it builds various layers upon layers on the instrumental half of this. The chorus takes a slight anthem form with the backing vocals. This track is definitely one of those that is designed for fist pumping.

Show No Mercy

This another track that opens up with the galloping Iron Maiden style rhythmic progression. This also is a track that builds layers upon layers. It carries both traditional heavy metal elements with light progressive metal elements. It does take a few breaks to allow the song to breathe so the listener can digest it. The guitar solo is one raunchy beast driving straight away which works very well for the soaring vocals.

Bedouin Caravan

This is the final song on the album and subsequently the end of the journey for now. This track is half a ballad style track and half a straight away traditional metal track. This is also the only instrumental on the album. The rhythm section and stringed sections still do a wonderful work telling their own story throughout the instrumental composition. Some of the elements we have come to know of Fred Gorhau from The Wizards of Winter project shine through on this track more so than the other tracks on the album.

I approached this album with some reservation and caution. It exceeded all of my expectations. This is definitely not a clone of The Wizards of Winter nor does it sound dated where it can easily fall through the cracks and branded as a nostalgia album. This does visit a era of metal many have forgotten about but maintains very modern and updated elements. The updated elements definitely prove this album is not your father’s metal but is also very modern to be your metal as well. With this project Fred Gorhau now has something he can work with on a year round basis without being pigeonholed to a specific time of year like he does with The Wizards Of Winter. I give Dark Sky Choir Dark Sky Choir a 4.5/5.

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