Jake Becker from Floridian power metal band Skyliner asked me a couple of days ago to review his band's three-track demo, and I was happy to oblige given my recently provoked interest in small-time local acts. The entirety of the work from this demo can be found on the band's Myspace page, and I encourage you to give them a visit.
Brief though Skyliner's demo may be, it is deep and detailed, giving the listener a very distinct impression what the band is capable of, and what kind of sound they are putting out. In the case of this Floridian power metal outfit, the trend is a fast, driving brand of power metal leaning heavily towards the US school, yet incorporating a very hefty dose of melody.
As always, vocals are one of the most important aspects for myself, and in this band there is no exception to that rule. Jake Becker's lead vocals are feeling, though I find they have a certain wavering quality about them from time to time when he is reaching a bit higher. His voice is very strong in the low register, hearkening to mind one of my favorite harder power metal acts, Dark at Dawn. In the chorus of "Symphony in Black", the addition of grouped voices sounds very good and suggests the potential for some incredible group vocal work to come. In fact, anywhere in these three songs where there are layered vocals, it's a good feature. While I find Becker's vocals a bit weaker on "Vendetta", I actually think that they're rather good on the final song, a softer (mostly) emotional piece entitled "Aria of the Waters". Perhaps this is just the production or when the songs were recorded.
Production-wise, this is a demo, so not a great deal is expected. While certain parts are muffled and not mixed the way you'd hear them on a polished album, the lack of a glossy feel helps you appreciate the heart that these guys put into their music, which leads me to the high point of this demo...
Sweet mercy can these guys riff! "Symphony in Black" is one catchy lick after another, laid out in a pattern that creates a complex, winding, and profoundly enjoyable listen. "Vendetta" is no letdown either, beginning with an anthemic and triumphant guitar lead that plunges into a machine gun riff-fest that doesn't let up. The tasteful use of keyboards only makes this song more interesting and unique, rather than interfere at all with the skilled axe work. "Aria of the Waters", while less remarkable instrumentally, has the rare ability to keep me interested in a ballad, so the band is sure doing something right.
If you're a fan of local metal in FL, do yourself a favor and look up Skyliner right now. If you're one of those far-flung metalheads that enjoys peeking in on demos all over the country, this one comes highly recommended. With a good production job and tightening up of a few details, Skyliner could be a force to be reckoned with. Even in their current gritty state, these are some catchy, memorable songs that should appeal to anyone remotely interested in the genre.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 8.25 out of 10