Open The Skies

Conspiracies

Written by: TL on 29/08/2008 14:11:12

If there's anything that should be capable of putting a smile on the face of a musical non-conformist these days, the development in the British underground must definitely be one of them, seeing how a small host of bands are emerging, taking a piss all over genre-conventions and putting whatever elements they please into their music, wonderfully careless of the troubles they'll cause for all the genre-nazis trying to find a label for them.

Point in case, take Open The Skies and their debut album "Conspiracies". An album that borrows heavily from metal and post-hardcore, with breakdowns, screaming, growling and kick-drums aplenty, while still retaining enough subtlety to stay firmly out of anything else than a definition of melodic rock. How? Well if you were to call Open The Skies metal, you'd put a gritty expression on the face of any stuck up longhair, but calling them alternative rock would also seem wrong, seeing as most of the mainstreamers who grew up identifying that term with Nickelback and other softies will be running crying to their mother at the opening screams of the intro track.

Now most of you are bound to take one listen to the record and go; "What's he talking about, this is just emo", but then my friends, you're not listening, because while the clean vocal might sound emo-ish, the guitar work, drumming and composition is metallic for the vast majority of "Conspiracies", and I dare say you're just hiding behind that label because you don't know what to call metal where the singer doesn't sound like he wants to convince you that he's either a) an angry bad ass motherfucker or b) a troubadour of medieval times, who lost his balls in battle and now sings of swords and dragons in a girly voice.

To dwell on the vocals for a bit more, they will probably be the obstacle to get around for most people before they can enjoy Open The Skies - and the untraditional match between clean singing over metallic music isn't the only issue at hand. Death metal enthusiasts will be sure to laugh out loud, realising that the growls here sound pretty harmless compared to the monstrosities they tend to worship, however, I dare say the point of them being in there is for the sake of variation rather than sounding like an evil hateful bastard. As for the clean vocals, it doesn't take many singing lessons for one to point out that lead singer Josh McKeown doesn't sound at all at home singing the chosen pitch here, and while I'm sure the band has consciously decided that his constantly strained delivery is cool and kept at it, the vocally obsessed will quickly be at best disinterested, and at worst annoyed.

For that to turn them away from this album would be a damn shame though, because as much as you might hate it for softening up your metal, or roughing up your emo, whichever way you see it, there are tunes too excellent to be avoided riddled all over it. Countless refrains, instantly singalongable, highlight especially the first half of the album, and throughout, sweet guitar riffs lick at your ear-pussies, going down well especially with fans of Fightstar - Maybe also because McKeown would sound like a carbon-copy of Charlie Simpson's brother Will (of Brigade), if he were any better technically.

And so, a quick recap tells of an album that has plenty of things for anyone to dislike, while promising instant gratification to anyone who can get around their predicaments in the form of more than half an album's worth of great songs. The flawed vocal delivery stands as the first hurdle for the band to get around before they can reach the highest grades, but this being a very homogeneous debut album, I also wouldn't mind seeing the band exploring their sound a tiny bit more, so that their now proven recipe gets spiced up rather than going sour.

Download: A Silent Decade, He Spoke Of Success, Fear Has No Voice
For The Fans Of: Funeral For A Friend, BlessTheFall, Fightstar, The Blackout
Listen: myspace.com/opentheskies

Release date 26.09.2008
Rising Records

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