………..Don't look to the past. You will find the future in only one place; ahead of you. Refuse to be held down by the elastic chains of convention. Slip those bonds, step out of your mental cage and think the unthinkable. Grant yourself the gift of freedom and find yourself garlanded by the rewards of innovation and success. Don't allow yourself to be herded by the mechanistic thump of the printing press, live without cliché, embracing what you love so tightly that it ceases to be separate from you and becomes innate. Like a heartbeat or an inhalation of breath………..
Perhaps it is because most of this band hail from Asia that they manage to think so uniquely. By virtue of this individuality as well as a combination of location and intelligence they have sidestepped the usual metal clichés, rising above the churning waves of the mundane and uninspiring.
This is very much an album of inspirational, almost spiritual focus. Dan Tompkins' vocals float with delicate poise and appropriate muscle over a cultured haze of driven, ambient guitars. The tonal emphasis of which bring to mind a combination of Stephen Carpenter at his best, blended with the defused excellence of OceanMachine era Devin. It is this coupling, of the highly defined and the indistinct which allow the vocals free reign to mould powerful, emotive lines over the music.
There is a heady and clear 80's pop influence on the melodic drive of Guiding Lights. The soul-edged sheen of Michael Jackson gliding alongside the debonair grace of Nik Kershaw. But it still maintains the propulsive impetus required to keep the record very much within the field of Progressive Metal.
This is due, in no little measure to the hyper-kinetic yet exquisitely measured drumming of Anup Sastry. He seems to have an exacting ear for precisely what emphasis is required and when. His effervescent and playful use of attenuated metres, poly-rhythmic forms and decimal timing give each song its own distinctive and propulsive throb. He seems as happy impelling a song at high velocity via intense Djenticular rhythms as he is sitting under a swelling groove, letting it grow and blossom with minimal, yet precise input.
The bass has a delectable depth to its marrow kneading tone. Creating a viable, yet lucid stanchion for the volubility of the drums and the theatricality of the guitar to happily co-exist.
The success of its role within the album is facilitated by one off the most balanced, nuanced and active mixes I have encountered since Andy Wallace stopped working on interesting music. It guides the songs without ever becoming a dominant force in their growth. Allowing the bass to impart its vascular prescience without swamping the guitar or be lost in a haze of luthiered reverb.
This is an album that wears its heart very much on its sleeve. With each song feeling like a love song, but not limited by the notion that such songs must be romantic paeans to an individual. Finding insight in the realisation that one can embrace thoughts, memories, ideas and conversations in the same way as one does with people.
This is for me what separates genuinely successful progressive metal from the pretenders within the field. The ability to find the romantic resonance within each concept and unleashing the huge potential each facet of love has to offer. Using the tools, skills and tropes of metal to focus and communicate these ideas into an unrelenting and compelling wave of sonic beauty.
Skyharbor with their globe spanning presence are not inhibited by the dogmatic restrictions of any one culture or location. Giving flight to ideas and concepts that might otherwise become reductively mired in the oxidised swamp of the collective unconscious.
Break your elastic chains of convention. Escape your mental prisons and run, heart open to synchronous possibility, towards the sun. Skyharbor have. Join them.
– John Whitmore