Skyharbor
Guiding Lights


4.5
superb

Review

by cloakanddagger USER (13 Reviews)
November 8th, 2014 | 94 replies


Release Date: 11/10/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: As well as avoiding the sophomore slump, Skyharbor have surpassed their debut album on Guiding Lights, creating one of the best prog releases of the year.

Dan Tompkins certainly has his fair share in the music business. As well as being a vocal coach, he has recently rejoined his original band Tesseract as vocalist, he has recently released an outstanding debut for his new project, Piano, has performed session vocals for Haji's Kitchen and has released a few singles in the style of 80's pop music in his project In Colour.

One of the best projects he's been involved with, however, has been Skyharbor. Originally a studio project for Indian guitarist Keshav Dhar, Tompkins contacted Dhar expressing a desire to collaborate. This eventually led to the release of the release of Skyharbor's debut album, Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos. Whilst this album was in itself a very impressive piece of work, the rawness of the album showed it was still a work in progress. This was also emphasized by there being two vocalists on this album (Tompkins and Sunneith Revankar), and Dhar recorded most of the instruments himself.

However, fast forward to 2014 and Skyharbor is now a full band. Tompkins is now a full time singer, and Dhar has been joined by Goddess Gagged guitarist and bassist Devesh Dayal and Krishna Jhaveri. Drummer for the band is Intervals and Chimp Spanner drummer, Anup Sastry. So now that Skyharbor has become a full band, how does their second album, Guiding Lights, compare to their debut"

One of the first things to note about this album is the production, which is nothing short of sublime. Every instrument (including the bass) is very clearly audible and very well produced. What is even more impressive is that the album was produced by the band themselves. On many occasions, one may argue that high production on a metal album ruins the experience, but on Guiding Lights it actually enhances the sound, and makes it a much more pleasurable album to listen to.

Musically, this album is extremely impressive. This band showcases a very good ability to create something that a lot of metal bands try and fail to do: atmosphere. Instead of trying to combine ambience with ridiculously heavy riffs (Something Vildhjarta tried to do on their latest EP), they have opted to create the atmosphere using a 'softer' approach. Not to say that this album doesn't get heavy, as shown in lead single Evolution and opening track Allure. However, they are willing to take a softer approach for a lot of this album, sometimes even abandoning distortion altogether; second single Patience is reminiscent almost of something by A Perfect Circle or Porcupine Tree. The songwriting on this album is also worthy of praise. The title track is the perfect example of both great songwriting and atmosphere, and is musically the best song on the album. Overall, though, all ten tracks on this album are very impressive and there is no filler to be seen.

Each member of the band is able to showcase their skill throughout this album. Dan Tompkin's vocals shine as always throughout the entire album, with (thankfully) no harsh vocals at all. The guitar work and drumming is simple, but effective. The instrumentation definitely sticks to the 'less is more' principle on this album. Whilst it certainly isn't simplistic, it's not on the level of bands like Dream Theater, but it works for the album. For the most part, the bass simply backs up the guitars, but there are the opportunities for it to shine, such as in opening track Allure. But unlike a lot of metal albums nowadays, you can actually hear the bassist, which is always a nice surprise.

On Guiding Lights, Skyharbor have surpassed their already impressive debut in every way. The album shows that they are a legitimate band, rather than just a studio project. The future for this band is bright, and the album title is very appropriate, since their guiding lights are definitely leading them on the right road.



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3.8
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
cloakanddagger
November 7th 2014


205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is my first review, so feedback and any constructive criticism is much appreciated.

I'm a bit of a Dan Tompkins fanboy so I may be praising it a little too much, but it's a darn impressive album.

Redincineration
November 7th 2014


21 Comments


This album impressed me so much. Always been a big fan of Dan's work with Tesseract, but this album is really a masterpiece. Also cool to see that they continued to give a nod to their Djent influences. An absolutely stunning piece of musicianship to be honest.

N2B3J
November 7th 2014


59 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review and this album is wonderful! I am so happy that I pledged to their campaign. To see it in its finalized form is an amazing thing!

castlesfall
November 7th 2014


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review! You could add a couple projects to Dan's resume in the first paragraph - White Moth Black Butterfly (which

Keshav does guitars and programming for) and Absent Hearts. Being the two softest projects Tompkins has been involved

with, you can really hear the correlation in the vocals between them and the softer parts of Guiding Lights.

Drummerboy123
November 7th 2014


3008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

'What is even more impressive is that the album was produced by the band themselves.'



Forrester Savell produced the album. Same dude who produced Sound Awake by Karnivool so that's probably why it sounds incredible.

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

DatBeefPudding
November 7th 2014


1865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

just noticed my download for the album via pledge in my email a few minutes ago. listening to the opening track, this is sure to be a fantastic album

Drummerboy123
November 7th 2014


3008 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Miracle is my fave atm. The 2nd half is just epic as fuck!

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
November 7th 2014


5447 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review, can't wait to listen to this! Just one thing - if you take the he out of 'he has recently

released an outstanding debut for his new project, Piano' and maybe remove the comma from Piano, I think the

introduction would read better.



Anyone know what Sunneith Revankar does now? I really liked his vocals on the first album.

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
November 7th 2014


24412 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"(Something Vildhjarta tried to do on their latest EP)"



implying that they didnt succeed

cloakanddagger
November 8th 2014


205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks for the feedback!



"You could add a couple projects to Dan's resume in the first paragraph"



Ah alright, I wasn't aware of the projects you mentioned, I may give them a listen!



"Forrester Savell produced the album"



Okay, I shall probably edit that part then, I wasn't aware of that



"implying that they didnt succeed"



Well, I do really like Vildhjarta, I saw 'em live in July of this year and Masstaden is a brilliant album, and they certainly can combine very heavy riffs with eerie ambience, but I felt like they just didn't do as good of a job on the EP. The heavy sections and the ambient sections felt too abrupt and it didn't really seem to flow very well. Still a fantastic band, and the EP is decent, but I just didn't dig it as much as Masstaden.

cloakanddagger
November 8th 2014


205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

And totally agree with you Drummerboy, the Title track is an absolute beast!

cloakanddagger
November 8th 2014


205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Also Aaron he's in the band Bhayanak Maut, though I've never listened to them before.

TzarChasm
November 8th 2014


270 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is album is just exquisitely beautiful. I'd never heard of Skyharbor before reading this review and I bought both albums last night after sampling "Evolution," "Patience," "Dots," and "Maeva." One of the most impressive parts of Skyharbor's music is their production, which is probably among the top 1% of all the albums I've ever heard in my life. Thanks for the review!

DatBeefPudding
November 8th 2014


1865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ya this album is fucking fantastic. possibly 5 worthy. i honestly cant find anything i dislike about it yet.



not to mention EVERY track is strong. no filler

PistolPete
November 8th 2014


4493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is good so far, been listening to it at the gym/office for the past week. It certaintly isn't as immediate as the debut album though so still not sure what I think. Definitely growing on me though. Patience has to be one of the songs of the year.

Digging: Sarin - Darker Lakes

DatBeefPudding
November 8th 2014


1865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it isn't an instant hit for you? i'm actually surprised. i mean shit, the intro to "new devil" is amazing

cloakanddagger
November 8th 2014


205 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

No problem Tzar, I'm glad I could introduce you to a fantastic album and band! Check out Dan's other bands if you haven't already, like Tesseract and Piano!

I'm giving it some time first Beef, since I've only listened to it a few times. It is definitely worthy of a 4.5 from a first listen, but I'm waiting to see if it has lasting power for me to push it up to a 5.

DatBeefPudding
November 8th 2014


1865 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah for me if im still listening to this after a year then i'll 5 it.



it is pretty damn good though.

paradoddle
November 9th 2014


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

>Cloakanddagger - Also Aaron he's in the band Bhayanak Maut, though I've never listened to them before.



BM's just released a new album and comes with a 118-page booklet of some pretty unsettling stories (on which the songs are based on). 3-4 worthy IMO. available on www.bhayanakmaut.com.



>Drummerboy123 - Forrester Savell produced the album. Same dude who produced Sound Awake by Karnivool so that's probably why it sounds incredible.



I believe he only did the post-production. Mixing and mastering only.

PortalofPerfection
November 9th 2014


1991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is really REALLY good so far, defintiely beats their debut but I have to disagree about the filler thing, I think there's some stuff here that was meant to add to the atmosphere and interconnect the songs but it just ends up kind of floating around taking up space. Just my initial impression from like 2 listens though.



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