I do love a surprise and I admit it was a great day yesterday when I opened my mailbox to hear of a new release from Shattered Skies. I knew that there had been problems in the camp at the tail end of 2015 which led to them seeking a new vocalist and I had the pleasure of catching them at last years Techabilitation in Croydon which new lung-man Gerry Brown in place, it was a good gig and I’ve looked forward to hearing new material ever since. And here we are…
Auxilium Vol.1 is the first of a quadrilogy of releases planned with the second threatening to be within our grasp before the end of the year! This first is made of five tracks which gives the listener twenty five minutes of brand new material to whet our appetite for the future releases.
The EP kicks off with opener ‘Circling The Drain’ a nice build in to the sounds expected throughout, rhythmical, technical and clear. The track is never too busy, building on riffs before twisting into others whilst at points the soaring guitars are complemented with keys which add to the melodic structure whist never being over-played. As is trade-mark Shattered Skies the song itself builds to a resounding chorus which always seem to feel upbeat and anthemic in their delivery.
‘No One’s Safe’ follows with a slow guitar intro which sounds like we are going to be treated to a ballad before launching into a twisting prog metal riff which settles into a rhythmic groove before the song starts in earnest. Each individual member of Shattered skies can be heard beautify in the mix and each has room toexplore their part in the songs progression. A wonderful twist in the melody appears in the last third of the song which veers the tune into a new direction from its opening and shows that Shattered Skies still have what it takes in terms of story telling.
The next song is also the albums longest and by far my favourite, kicking off with a beautiful groove ‘Hold On For Your Life’ shows the full arsenal of tricks the band have up their sleeves to completely immerse you with their music. It is here that the vocals come into their own and break apart from the style we have heard from previous releases. As well as the amazing range required to be a part of the band to be able to pull off their back catalogue, Gerry brings along an aggressive growl into the mix which is used sparsely and to amazing effect which really helps accent passages which was always missing from past releases.
‘Upsurge’ follows and despite a chaotic initial riff brings a slower and melodic feel which nicely breaks up the pace of the EP and offers variety to the mix. The build in this song is haunting and the edge in the vocals really seals the deal as it leads into the chorus. Its powerful and emotional whilst still managing to be brimming with rhythmical ideas and musicianship.
Last song on the EP is the first single ‘The Reprisal’ which takes the elements present in all the above and stirs them further into a truly interesting and dynamic track which you will be humming for weeks! The band seem as one as the song twists and turns over its length exploring a myriad of ideas whilst never feeling precocious for doing so.
As a follow up to the already great ‘The World We Used To Know’ from 2015 Shattered Skies have surpassed themselves by taking the already working formula and injecting something new into the mix to allow for even greater soundscapes to emerge. This release is sure to thrill current fans whilst no-doubt earning them many many more…as they so rightly deserve! Its going to be a great year!
Be sure to head over to bandcamp to grab your copy now: https://shatteredskies.bandcamp.com/album/auxilium-vol-i