Self-released [Release date: 06.11.15]
Following up The Skys’ 2012 release ‘Colours Of The Desert’ (which was excellent – with a few caveats), Lithuania’s finest return with ‘Journey Through The Skies’ which, in the same way as ‘Colours’, is another tremendous effort – but…
In my review of ‘Colours’ I outlined my misgivings regarding the religious content – not only my own opinions about religion in rock music, but also the fact that said content almost shunts the music into a siding marked ‘niche market’.
The good news with ‘Journey Through The Skies’ is that the religious content is almost negligible – the bad news, however, is that another problem has pushed itself to the fore, which I fear, if not addressed, could well derail the whole project.
And this problem lies with the lyrics/vocals.
Now in progressive rock we’re all used to wacky, off-kilter lyrics and so long as they’re well sung it’s accepted as part of the wonderful genre of prog – ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ anyone?
The problem here is that not only are many of the lyrics somewhat clicheed, but still worse, are mostly part-spoken in a heavy Eastern European accent making the listener wonder whether they are being sold car insurance.
This is a great shame as the music is absolutely magnificent throughout and the band have called upon a number of prog/rock luminaries to add their skills to proceedings – so the likes of Snowy White (guitar), Rob Townsend (sax) and Anne-Marie Helder (backing vox) all enhance the tracks on which they appear.
Nowhere is this paradox more clear than on ‘Should Stop Now’ where semi-spoken lyrics such as “children are selling drugs on the street – they should stop now”, and “a boy is killing people in a war – he should stop now” are juxtaposed with a storming solo from White and some very tasty sax from Townsend.
Things improve when keyboard player Bozena Buinicka takes over on lead vocals as on album closer ‘Love Of Life’ which sounds much more like it.
At their best The Skys sound like ‘Animals’ era Pink Floyd (check out ‘Broken Sounds Of Truth’ for example) and most of the instrumentation is first-rate progressive rock of the highest order with Jonas Ciurlionis’ soaring guitar very much to the fore, but unless the issues of vocals/lyrics are addressed I fear the bargain bin of despair beckons – and the music deserves a much better fate.
***** (for the music) * (for the lyrics/vocals)
Review by Alan Jones
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