ALBUM REVIEW: Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust
Photo Credit: Argon Photography
Music is one of the most far reaching and all-inclusive entities in existence, and thanks to the power of the internet it can touch all corners of the world at the click of a button. This was very much the case when the band Skyharbor came to be. The outfit saw its formation as the brainchild of Kavesh Dhar in his home studio in the city of New Delhi, India before joining forces with TesseracT vocalist Daniel Tompkins (based in the United Kingdom) and popular YouTube/session drummer Anup Sastry (based in Maryland in the United States). The group hired a couple more musical mercenaries to join their ranks and have since released two studio albums, Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos and the phenomenal Guiding Lights, and have toured extensively which is no small feat considering that not all of the members live in the same country.
The band have seen their fair share of difficulty along the way having parted ways with original bassist Nikhil Rufus Raj, drummer Anup Sastry and most importantly vocalist Daniel Tompkins. However, with the latest additions of Aditya Ashock behind the kit and Cleveland native Eric Emery on vocals the band look stronger than ever and have been slaving away in the studio to create Skyharbor’s third full length album Sunshine Dust.
The album opens with a brief atmospheric introduction track, which serves little purpose other than to introduce the relatively new vocalist Emery and gives him a chance to show his new audience what he can do, before leading into opening full-length track Dim which is where things really begin to kick into gear. You are immediately hit with a wall of low-tuned, anvil-heavy guitar and bass lines, coupled with impressively technical drum beats. The vocals of Emery then sit wonderfully on top of the chaos and present the listener with the perfect contrast to the low-end sound created by the other musicians. The chorus is up amongst the best you are likely to hear in metal in 2018. The vocals soar and present the kind of melody that wouldn’t be out of place coming from Spencer Sotela from progressive metal pioneers Periphery. The second half of the song throws out more intricacy with regards to the guitar riffs on show and gives the guitar fans a chance to marvel at the prowess of guitarists Keshav Dhar and Devesh Dayal, before breaking about two thirds of the way in for a clean, almost tranquil bridge which is a tool that is utilised multiple times throughout this release.
The follow up track starts in a similar way to its predecessor with the heavy, full guitar sound creating a soundscape of distortion that will prove to be the soundtrack to many a moshpit when played live. The verses utilise the ability of Krishna Jhaveri on the bass with his almost jazz inspired riffing, pairing up with the impressive beats laid down by Ashock. This is pure technical brilliance and shows just how well the band feed off of each other’s ability when creating their music, and create a rhythm section that is not only expansive and interesting, but also water tight and a solid foundation. The vocals take centre stage here and prove what an acquisition Emery has been for Skyharbor. The hooks and choruses alone are enough to entice fans around the world and when you add the brilliance in the writing of the instrumentals you are surely onto a winner. The only downside here is that the band once again use the method of putting in a clean break at around two thirds of the way through the song, which has the potential to be a tad repetitive if used to frequently.
The next song of note has to be Blind Side which slams the breaks on and provides a beautifully spacey, clean introduction. The vocal performance from Emery is superb once again, a reoccurring theme for this entire album it has to be said. His range and durability is something that really benefits a band such as Skyharbor, who are creating a very varied and diverse style of metal music. The harsh, screamed vocal technique is not used in spades on Sunshine Dust, and waits until the tenth track on the album Dissent to make a real appearance. The song itself takes on a sound not too dissimilar to that of progressive metal trailblazers SikTh with its jagged, award rhythmic sections and busy fretwork. The vocals alternate between screams, spoken word passages and melodic singing and the result is an excellent take on modern metal music. Hopefully this will be the jewel in an already stellar live set for the band in years to come.
This album is a welcome return for a band that have all of the tools to be something truly memorable. Skyharbor have come of age on this album and with their new members, increased drive and progression the band look to be on an upward trajectory and will be bothering the big players in the genre in the very near future. Watch this space.
Standout Tracks: Dim, Blind Side, Dissent
For Fans Of: Periphery, TesseracT, Monuments
Written by: Richard Webb