My first encounter with Skyharbor was much after they released
their debut record, as I stumbled across their songs online. I was immediately
drawn in and loved the Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos album. Yet, it
always felt (and was) just a collaboration by top notch musicians and not a
cohesive band. So when the band announced its plans for the sophomore album, I
was excited! I was excited to see what these exceptional musicians could create
after working together as a band, I was excited to see what direction the music
will take, I was excited for Guiding Lights.
Firstly, the production and mastering on this record must be
highly praised. Forrester Savell‘s has outdone himself, with each instrument
(including the bass) being very clearly audible. Given the amount of talent
each member of this band brings forth, the fact that each member’s contribution
stands out equally on the record is purely remarkable.
Much like their debut record, the band plays some amazing ambient-melodic progressive metal. The ambient nature comes out amazingly on this record with the atmosphere they manage to create with their music. The record has a continuous flow of melodic guitar riffs and swaying bass lines working in perfect cohesion with the intricate complex drumming by Anup Sastry along with the overlay of Daniel Tompkins voice.
If the group had outclassed themselves with ‘Maeva’ in the debut album, the band has gone leaps ahead of themselves with ‘Halogen’. The powerful distorted riffs and Dan’s vocals lead the charge at the start and then giving way to clean ambient guitar tones before hitting back with more power. These end up paving the way to a soulful narration by Valentian Reptile along with the most beautiful background guitar melody. This amazing back and forth, back and forth of the music takes the listener into a higher state of mind altogether.
The band also manages to pull off a Steve Wilson/Porcupine Tree style ballad with perfection in ‘Patience’. The ambient guitar tones lead the path with a voice that will put you in a sense of idyllic peace at once. The amazing tie-up video by Jess Cope adds to the charm of the track.
The album comes to a close with ‘The Constant’, whose melancholic guitar work is something that will stay with the listener for some time even when the album has stopped playing. A clean riff structure starts off at the beginning, and goes on becoming heavier and distorted as the track progresses before coming to its climax at the end. The guitar solo by ‘Plini’ midway adds its own beauty into the track.
Overall with Guiding Lights, Skyharbor have surpassed their impressive debut album in every manner possible. The album takes its time to grow on the listeners but then it stays there for countless future spins. The benefits of being a full-fledged band, with each member involved in the song writing from the start shines out bright throughout the album.
Have I not already said enough to convince you how good the album is? Guiding Lights is one of the best prog releases of 2014.