DESOLATE SKY - BEFORE THE DEVIL AND THE DARKNESS

BLASTOFF MUSIC

 

Metal To Infinity

Stefan took me by surprise by this one and I’m thankful because of it! I didn’t have any clue who Desolate Sky really was but one look at the cover made me hope it was an American band… An eye of the blink, for an obsessive US Metal fanatic as I am, was enough to discover these guys are from Chicago and that conjured a big smile on my face. Looking at the band’s biography learns that they want to sound in the first place ‘True’ and do you really think I needed more to give this one a shot?  

Let’s talk about the front cover first! The darkness drips out of it, just the way I like it. A macabre cathedral, some crows on death trees and a figure that seems to be an uninhabited angel… Admit that a front cover is important and my words must be strong enough to convince you about it! No? As a matter of fact I adore this kind of sinister paintings but why the hell did these guys write a message on it, to announce ‘not for sale, promo use only’? Did they really think that we, at Metal To Infinity, sell the CD’s we receive? Didn’t they visit our website to discover we’re specialized in US Metal and we support this scčne since immemorial? What was crossing their minds? No hard feelings anyway… 

Oh yes, this sounds impressive and musical wise this band owns a lot of trumps and I can’t deny they took me slowly by the throat! I found out that it took a lot of time writing this review and I kept on pushing the ‘play’ button to listen again and again, to rewrite some sentences over and over again…  

I really adore the guitars on this disc; the solos, the riffs and not at least the mind blowing acoustic pieces. The hooks, the double leads, the double riffs, that guitar sound… please allow me to drool! Pat Gandy and Scott Staszak are a perfect team and it was a long time ago an infamous guitar duo impressed me that much. Fans of bands like Annihilator, Iced Earth and plenty of Bay Area Thrash Metal bands will hear familiar things but will also discover that both guitarists are amazingly skilled, capable in putting that ‘extra touch’ into their instruments. The production sounds ‘late Eighties or early nineties’ and a bit of a more modern mix would have Desolate Sky sound even more overwhelming. Anyway it’s clear Desolate Sky have chosen at first to sound pure, hail them because of it! By musical introductions, lowered voices and some samples they bring the darkness on this disc but they don’t exaggerate with them. This kind of bands can’t sound horrifying and threatening enough... The atmosphere on this one reminds me often to old Iced Earth and the guitars in general, the mind blowing acoustic pieces in specific, have a lot to do with it. For a big part they make this CD irresistible to me, along with those Thrashy parts with blistering drums! 

This is the kind of Metal that will never bore a listener; at least it will never bore me. The fast fingered solos are ripping and stunning, offers the adrenaline I just need. At some points the solos reminds me to the very old Mercyful Fate (“Don’t break the oath” era), of course the old Iced Earth albums (“Burnt Offerings” era) and Megadeth in general and that’s a huge compliment. One after another emotional pull of the strings is heading your way! The basic lines with strong bass guitar lines and technical played (double bass) hard hitting drums make every part sound so much stronger! Desolate Sky balances on a very thin line between US Power Metal and mid tempo Thrash Metal. They do it with so much flair; with tracks that are so powerful and melodic that they easily impresses the listener! 

Scott Staszak is also the singer of the band and his voice is very acceptable. At the slower pieces (“Another Day” for example) Staszak’s voice is even a bit similar to Matthew Barlow in the same kind of arrangements. For the rest the aggressive undertone of his timbre is a brand, the reason this formation makes Meliah Rage crossing my mind.  Anyway I’ve tried to imagine how transcendent Desolate Sky would sound with a high pitched vocalist in vein of James Rivera (Helstar), Warrel Dane (Sanctuary era), Matthew Barlow (Iced Earth)… I know, I keep on mentioning these guys but no one can deny they have always made the difference between a very good band, what Desolate Sky really is and what we call ‘Godlike’. No matter how much I’ve enjoyed this release, no matter the fact that Scott Staszak didn’t fail at all, I am convinced that a supreme singer would lift Desolate Sky to highest possible level. For God’s sake, Desolate Sky owns a bunch of extraordinary Metal musicians but they miss that little step to make them blessed forever in the US Metal scčne! I’ve listened to Sons Of Liberty this morning at work and I was astonished again by Jon Shaffer’s vocal performances on this one, giving the album just that extra touch it needed… Remember how Jon Shaffer supported Matthew Barlow on the classic ones of Iced Earth? Remember how ‘out of this world’ that really was to hear his vocal sound supporting Barlow’s? Get the picture? 

I don’t want to sound at any point negative about Desolate Sky because this is a band with a future, old school or not! I’m only a reviewer and I realize that there’s no reason why these guys should listen to me. What I do know is that plenty of European True Metal fanatics will understand my thoughts but I don’t know if the Americans always consider the reasons why we worship their True Metal bands... Anyway the songwriting on this one is very strong and the way it is all performed is even better. Desolate Sky easily reaches their goals and contains the talent to easily do so much better in the future, other challenges must already be written! This sounds as true as it can be and anything I wrote about them is really meant positively! These lads know what fans of Eighties Metal really want because it’s clear that they’re children of that era themselves. Purchase this one at http://www.desolatesky.com / http://www.myspace.com/desolatesky… otherwise you can order the CD via hellion Records at:http://www.hellionrecords.de/  

My Points: 86 / 100 (Review by Officer Nice)

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