Some time ago I came across a video clip of the duo Silent Skies. I had never heard of them before, but the song “Leaving” particularly touched me because of the fantastic vocals. A quick search revealed that the band will be releasing their second album, entitled “Nectar” on February 4th, on the Austrian Napalm records label, which is mostly known for its heavy and folk metal releases. Because I’ve never heard of Silent Skies, and because “Leaving” is very far removed from the heavy metal genre, my interest was aroused.
Silent Skies is a duo. A collaboration between singer Tom Englund, who we know from the progressive metal band Evergrey from Gothenburg. A wonderful band that is mainly known for their great vocals and also for the use of cool vintage keys. Just listen to tracks like “Where August Mourns”. Delicious.
The second half of the duo is the American multi instrumentalist Vikram Shankar, who can mainly be found behind the keys on “Nectar”. His biggest claim to fame is that he plays keys on the album “The courage to be” by rock trio Lux Terminus, on which Anneke van Giersbergen provides a guest vocal. The third musician is cellist Raphael Weinroth-Bowne, who also plays live with the Norwegian rock band Leprous.
Nectar has 10 tracks and opens with “Fallen from her Heart”, a song that immediately sets the tone for the entire album. A very simple piano accompaniment, with a continuous tapestry of strings hanging around it provide a nice open basis for the truly fantastic voice of Englund. Tastefully the vocals are dubbed here and there or assisted with second and third voices, all sung by Englund.
It’s not metal or rock though. I get flashbacks to Clannad or Il Divo rather than associate this music with rock. A brave step from Napalm records in the ‘color outside the lines’ category. Do not get me wrong. The music is very beautiful, let there be no doubt about that.
Reviewing this album turns out to be a challenge. All the other songs on the album I could easily refer to with the paragraph above. They all sound the same. There is no dynamic progression, or tension, other than that laid by Englund in his performance. Separately, all tracks have an ethereal beauty that is very doable. However, having to listen to an entire album will only succeed if my regular masseuse Helmie puts this album on as background music with a nice relaxation massage. If I ask her she will. Normally she has Il Divo on.
My favorite song is “Taper”, which was also released as a single. “Let it Hurt” is orchestrated a little more broadly than the rest of the album, and the vocals are also a bit more complexly arranged. In any case, a double time piano is laid here and there on the basis, which creates the illusion of a little more dynamics, but that only lasts for a while. In summary, Silent Skies releases an album with 10 beautiful songs with “Nectar”. However, it turns out that putting together an album is also an art, because these 10 songs in a row is just too much, unless you’re lying on the massage table with Helmie. In any case, it has resulted in me keeping a closer eye on that Tom Englund. (6/10) (Napalm Records)