Review Summary: Djent that even your grandma would love.
Are we living in the Post-Djent world yet" Has Djent ever been big and mainstream enough to warrant the spawning of as many bands claiming the djent aesthetic as there currently exist" Is every band that came after Meshuggah technically Post-Djent" Well, I don’t have answers for these questions, but Shattered Skies’ debut full-length effort may very well be the first true pop-oriented Post-Djent album, although Destiny Potato’s Lun
and Skyharbor’s Guiding Lights
may also lay claim to that title. What we have here is a big shiny pop-metal record with excellent musicianship, soaring vocals, hooks galore, impeccable production, and oh yeah, plenty of groovy palm-muted riffs.
The fact that the riffs on this record are largely played on extended range guitars and palm muted may completely turn you off it, but that would be a shame, because while Shattered Skies may be johnny-come-latelies to the scene, they’ve put out a fine record. The instrumentalists, while not being particularly groundbreaking, are actually a breath of fresh air because of the restraint they show. While they are playing that particular brand of technical metal we have all grown to love, they rarely if ever overplay a song, which has become one of the defining characteristics of the genre. Guitars, drums and bass and electronica are not competing for the spotlight, but actually work together to drive songs. And make no mistake, the songs here have focus and direction, and are not just a sequence of random musical left turns. There is no weirdness for the sake of weirdness, and no complication for the sake of complication. While fans of more unpredictable songwriting might be disappointed, those who appreciate good anthemic pop-rock with one foot firmly planted in techy progressive metal (surely I can’t be the only one) will find plenty to love.
Front and center are the vocal contributions of singer, Sean Murphy, who could very easily have been dismissed as yet another Daniel Tomkins/Ian Kenny-type clone because of his clean high register singing. However, while he doesn’t seem to have as much personality or versatility in his singing as some of the possible “greats” of the genre, he has a great ear for melody and hooks and consistently delivers on them. Over the course of the album his lack of versatility shows a little bit. While he does do a pretty good job on the epic balladry of “Elegance and Grace” and “Aesthetics” (and how often have you heard largely piano-drive ballads on djent albums"), he seems to be at his most comfortable when the guitars and drums are kicking up a ruckus around him. When the band collectively really hits its stride, such as on “End and the Rebirth”, “Haunted” and “As the Sea Divides”, the music will leave you feeling confused about whether you would rather air-guitar or dance, and really that’s never a bad thing. But even at its lowest points – which aren’t really that low – the band provides enough melody and bluster to make even your grandma bob her head.