Having a lot of music being made and more options for listeners is a great thing, and you’d have to try awfully hard to seek out something that’ll move you and fail completely. That’s ideal for a listener who can pick and choose what they want to hear, but when you’re writing about it—yes, this again, get your own site, then—the ocean of releases can be intimidating and exhausting.
When I got the promo package for “Glow,” the second record from UK-based Countless Skies, I wasn’t really bursting with excitement off the bat because progressive melo-death isn’t really something that makes me all that excited. But I try to stay open-minded, and I trust Willowtip, so I dug in, and if I’m not a complete judgmental asshole! This record is absolutely nothing like what I thought at all, and I’ve been fully immersed with each trip I’ve taken alongside these seven tracks. While, yes, progressive in nature, this band isn’t noodling the fuck all over themselves and instead find ways to work interesting patterns into their melodic death, which is gritty, satisfying, and soaring. That Countless Skies—vocalist/guitarist Ross King, guitarist James Pratt, bassist/vocalist Phil Romeo, drummer Nathan Robshaw—pull this off with such precision and actual human heart is impressive, and while it might not be edgy enough for some, I really like the mix of spacious and devastating, dealt in balanced servings.
“Tempest” starts the record with waves crashing before the crunch hits, and then spacious playing rushes along with King’s growls setting in. The chorus is huge with clean singing surging, with keys fluttering after that, and a total prog assault arriving. Emotion floods as guitars explode, with the song draining out. “Summit” begins with rich gothy keys and a chugging pace as huge vocals explode, and the growls utterly swelter. The chorus feels gigantic and gets your blood going as we head into a fog with the bass swaggering, synth zapping, and grisly growls taking the track to its end. “Moon” starts in a noise haze as the keys drive, and a crunchy fury pokes holes in the walls. The chorus is sweeping and massive as progressive winds push, and the guitars burn openly. The final moments allow for some final bursts as the track disappears into the horizon. “Zephyr” trickles in coldly as the keys set up shop, and the bass actively wrestles its way through the weeds. The vibe is solemn and fitting of the early evening, when the skies grow sleepy, as the final minutes break out and explode with crazed fire.
The record is wrapped up by the “Glow” triptych, which runs over a healthy 20:29 and starts with “Part 1” that emerges out of a thick haze as bass trickery unleashes its strangeness. Guitars darken as clean singing swelters, with the growls bursting behind that like a beast in the night. Guitars smear as the playing boils, with parts of the track soaring, other sections diving deep into ocean waters. Guitars give off the day’s final rays of light, mixing into “Part 2” that jolts with energy and atmosphere, with King’s singing firing off energy. Growls add an element of ugliness as the leads take off, and a heartfelt gust of playing kicks up dust, cold keys chill, and we head into the final segment “Part 3.” Acoustics sweep with synth bursts as King’s singing opens and fills your chest. The melodies swirl as the guitars send electrical charges, and the fiery pace is on, with the playing quaking the earth. The growls scrape at flesh as the pace dizzies and clobbers, and the final hammer is dropped as the light fades.
Countless Skies aren’t concerned with pure savagery at all corners, as their commitment to melody and true human emotion make “Glow” a record that isn’t just here to get you maimed. This is a really energetic album, one that gets inside of you from the start and lets you explore every corner of the world they create. Granted, the world seems flooded with bands mixing prog into melodic death metal, but few do it with the precision and heart that are shown by Countless Skies.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/CountlessSkies/
To buy the album, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/store/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.willowtip.com/home.aspx