Four track EP from the South Walian quartet, And The Sky Darkened, that extends beyond their heavy/hard rock influences
Release Date: 8th May 2020
Formats: CD EP / DL / stream Bandcamp
Described by singer/guitarist Ryan Lewis as “our most focused work to date whilst still displaying our light and dark sides.” It’s as succinct a summary as we could hope for.
The new EP from And The Sky Darkened takes them on the next step of their journey that began with 2016’s The Fracture EP. Housed in a monochrome sleeve that depicts what might appear to be the faceless cowl of a mysterious ghostly monk, it becomes clearer as the more ominous youth in a hoody.
When you have a drummer nicknamed ‘Animal’ there’s bound to encompass some element of Thrash. Much has been made of their influences that range from the kings of Thrash, Metallica to the more challenging intensity of the likes of Tool. However, although there’s a significant emphasis on heaviness, their sense of melody and change of pace and dynamics have become more refined.
A full on four minutes (and five seconds) of Burden Hardest To Bear is a perfect curtain raiser. To coin a phrase, rolling thunder (but no pouring rain) it comes on like a hurricane. A combination of clean and harsh vocals
A chiming atmosphere introduces Turn These Eyes Blind that’s held together by a thoroughly meaty riff and a vocal that reinforces the intensity of the cleaner side. Hrdly what you’d class as having mainstream or commercial appeal, but a track that has enough about it to impress and pick up new listeners. Just as a machine gun riff kicks in the track pulls out an emergency stop. It would have been interesting to see where some jamming may have led. Pick of the EP? Could be…
The Darkened Await leads with an impressive hook via the lead lines from twin guitars – yes it’s a bit Maiden-y – before a riff straight from the stone age and another bout of what Mike Portnoy calls the cookie monster vocals. The battering is given a brief respite with a crafted interlude, yet the curveball comes with the title track. After being battered by the opening three, the change of pace and atmosphere is most welcome.
An unexpected highlight. Not to harp on about ‘Tallica, but it feels like their Nothing Else Matters moment – in a good way. Again, not quite lapsing into the big hair, power ballad, soft focus video zone, it helps fulfil their promise of “beauty and brutality” fulfilled.
Listen to The Darkened Await here: