Last we heard from them, the intrepid heroes from Skyliner had dropped their self-titled demo on me to substantial effect. Of a number of unsigned demo bands from around the States that I've heard, Skyliner were definitely near the top of the list. Though suffering from some rough-edged production, there was a depth and strength to the debut that spoke volumes about the intent and passion that Mr. Becker and company have for their music. Now with their new EP entitled "The Alchemist", the trio look to be out to open a few more eyes.
"The Alchemist" is, first and foremost, much more accessible than the aforementioned demo. More than that, it has been modernized and given a sleeker feel in both sound and appearance. The title track is a fast-paced, double bass and guitar assault that blends withering leads and vocals with a few insertions of superb melody. If anything, "Undying Wings" is even better with its unorthodox and excellent guitar lead, driving into the best song that I've heard from the band yet. This reminds me exactly why I need to keep my eyes and ears open for local music, because though this is only a pair of songs, the talent is undeniable.
If there's a single item that stands out on "The Alchemist", it's the improvement and sheer power of Becker's vocals. Whereas there was a bit of wavering in his voice on the band's demo, the sound has developed into something both solid and commanding. Reminding me of a blend of Sabaton's Joakim Bróden and Morgana Lefay's Charles Rytkönen, but with a smoother melodic groove than either, Becker has hit the nail on the head with his vocal styling.
The mixing is still a little light on the guitar and drums, but bass is very audible and absolutely nuts in a couple of places! If this came out a bit heavier and more solid, it could be one of my favorite pieces of the year. Right now, it's definitely the best EP I've listened to yet. Go look these guys up if you haven't done so already. Bloody promising!
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The Protagonist's Rating: 4.25 out of 5