Skyharbor – Guiding Lights

Skyharbor - Guiding Lights

Skyharbor first came to my attention back in 2012, with the release of their debut Blinding White Noise. Even if this introductory release had not sold me entirely on their sound, it was clear that the band certainly had skill and potential enough to evolve into something greater. With this in mind, I met Guiding Lights with some measure of anticipation; after all, there have been several instances in progressive metal recently where bands would come unto their own with stronger sense of style on the second or third album. With that in mind, and bearing the fact that the band features Dan Tompkins (who recently rejoined TesseracT), I may have been pleasantly surprised to hear Guiding Lights overtake the debut.

As was the case with their preceding work, Skyharbor take a varied approach to progressive metal, with a firm emphasis on melody. Although Dream Theater have become a synonym for melodic-but-technical prog metal, Skyharbor are distinguished from the American prog powerhouse in the regard that melody is made to be the most prominent aspect of the sound. Even if they may occasionally jump into pop territory, the music is built on steady song structures over the hi-tech instrumentation one tends to expect from the genre. Evolution and New Devil are two examples of Skyharbor’s impressive ability to merge the longform scope of prog metal with the tight songwriting craft you would usually only find in songs of a more typical length. Skyharbor can be commended for putting an emphasis on something that the prog metal style often ignores. Each of the pieces on Guiding Lights feel excellently paced and structured. The concise approach does not lessen the excitement of the instrumental sections that are usually asked in the genre. Instrumental parts do not feel restrained; it’s as if they complement Tompkins’ voice and vice versa. A very good example for that is Patience, which comes with warm, uplifting sound that spreads all over the record.

Over the last few years, the progressive metal genre lost quite a big share of melody, whereas the most of the attention was given to technicality. Skyharbor with Guiding Lights emphasize the melodic approach in writing and vocal performances. As a result, the album seems catchy, while retaining the complexity.

Even though it’s easy to take a band’s virtuosic skills for granted in progressive metal, Skyharbor are indeed remarkably skilled and tight as a band, with drummer Anup Sastry and already mentioned Dan Tompkins having a great wealth of experience when it comes to composing and performing. The guitar pair Keshav Dhar and Devesh Dayal offer some strong riffs and leads that express a healthy awareness for the genre’s legends. Krishna Jhaveri’s bass contributions are more subtle, adding a stable foundation of sound for the music.

Besides being a noted improvement over the debut effort, Guiding Lights takes Skyharbor few steps forward to realising the band’s full potential. A mellow as it is, but packed with instrumental inventiveness and technical proficiency, Guiding Lights is one of the finest albums released in 2014.

Guiding Lights is out on November 10th via Basick Records. Pre-order it from Bandcamp.

Tracklist:

01. Allure
02. Evolution
03. Idle Minds
04. Miracle
05. Halogen
06. New Devil
07. Patience
08. Guiding Lights
09. Kaikoma
10. The Constant

Line-up:

Daniel Tompkins – vocals
Keshav Dhar – guitar
Devesh Dayal – guitar
Krishna Jhaveri – bass
Anup Sastry – drums

Links:

http://skyharbormusic.com

https://www.facebook.com/skyharbormusic/

Nikola Savić is a prog enthusiast, blogger and author, in addition to being the founder of Prog Sphere, Progify, ProgLyrics and the ongoing Progstravaganza compilation series.

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