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Stygian Sky - "Stygian Sky" (CD/EP)

Stygian Sky - "Stygian Sky" CD/EP cover image

"Stygian Sky" track listing:

1. Here I Stand
2. Over My Dead Body
3. Such Prominent Endeavors
4. Tides Of Counsciousness

Reviewed by on June 18, 2009

"If I had to pick a favorite track on the disc, it'd be the third song, 'Such Prominent Endeavors,' which has such a percussive riff that it actually lends itself to having the drums that loud in the mix. "

On the band's self-titled demo, Stygian Sky takes the concept of leading with your greatest strength to an unfortunate extreme. This disc is a drummer's delight — others may not enjoy it so much.

The band describes its sound as "a brutal combination of death, thrash and progressive metal styles," which is accurate as far as it goes. "Here I Stand" starts out well, with guitarists Colin Capstick and Jason Burke playing a thrash-tinged Maiden style riff before going to a more hardcore thrash sound. Then, vocalist Cliff Gouthro brings his death screams into the mix — and that's where things start to go wrong.

Yeah, Craig Joyce is a good drummer, but that doesn't mean he should be so high in the mix. His drums are so high in the mix that they compete with what are ostensibly the band's "lead" instruments. The problem with this becomes excruciatingly clear in the solo to "Here I Stand," in which the steady "thump, thump, thump" is louder than the guitars.

The problem gets worse on "Over My Dead Body," especially when Joyce relies on cymbals to keep time with a steady "ping, ping, ping" that gets distracting. You can pretty much guarantee that whenever the other instruments quiet down, the drums will remain at the same volume.

If I had to pick a favorite track on the disc, it'd be the third song, "Such Prominent Endeavors," which has such a percussive riff that it actually lends itself to having the drums that loud in the mix. It also features Gouthro's best vocals.

The closer, "Tides Of Consciousness," alternates between fast and slow, with a slow, clean guitar break that, for a few moments, isn't overcome by the drums.

It's too bad that the poor mixing decisions mucked up what could've been some good songs. Capstick and Burke seem to be talented guitarists, but their riffs are put in the back seat by the production. Even bringing up Dave Grant's bass would've probably offset the drums a little, but this is death metal, a bass-free zone.

Let's hope that Stygian Sky's next release puts the drums in their place.

Highs: "Such Prominent Endeavors" has a percussive riff that goes well with the loud drums.

Lows: Craig Joyce's drums, though expertly played, overpower everything in their path.

Bottom line: Drums too high in the mix nearly wreck what could've been a promising disc.

Rated 2.0 out of 5 skulls
2.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)