The son of Be’lakor has been born and Countless Skies is his name. The Hertfordshire foursome of Ross King – Vocals and Guitars, James Pratt – Guitars, Phil Romeo – Vocals and Bass and Nathan Robshaw – Drums have produced a stunning debut album that has everything you would want from the melodic death metal scene plus a few curve balls thrown in.
With the name of Countless Skies coming from a song from the Australian band Be’lakor their influences are clear for everyone to hear. Throw in a liberal sprinkling of Scandinavian death metal bands and out pops Countless Skies.
With all these influences you would be forgiven for thinking the debut album New Dawn would be a tribute offering but nothing could be further from the truth.
With a running time of 44 minutes split over eight songs, Countless Skies have focused on quality over quantity with no album fillers to allow you to daydream and tune out. Each song has a purpose and although the genre dictates the general feel, each song has its own unique selling point and delivers a great balance of loud over quiet and clean and unclean vocals. And if a song needs to be 10 minutes long then so be it. It is all the better for it.
With the opening instrumental Aubade it is obvious you will find no doom and gloom here and it teases us nicely for what is coming next. Anathema would have been proud to produce such a purposeful start.
Next up is the track Heroes and this is where it all kicks in for real as we go from song to song ticking off driving drum pedals, riffs galore, and different vocal styles. Solace which is the 4fth song in brings a welcome surprise when bass player Phil Romeo delivers some great clean vocals which contrast nicely with of lead man Ross King. This contrast of vocal styles continues from then on and whilst that blend is not unique Countless Skies have managed to find just the right balance to keep it interesting.
Ethereal, which is also to be found on the Countless Skies EP released in November 2015, is the likely stand out track but just wins by a short head over the track Return. Return is one of those epic songs to close an album that bands with decades of experience would be expected to produce. Taking Japanese influences to blend into the introduction of this song could have been seen as a gamble but the style is handled well and transitions in to the song seamlessly.
Countless Skies should be proud of New Dawn as they have delivered a debut album of quality for us all to enjoy. The songs have shown each band member can deliver individually and that collectively they can produce so much more.
By all accounts, the live experience is equally impressive and if proof was needed then winning the Bloodstock battle to appear on the New Blood Stage in 2015 is enough for me. A short tour of England and Ireland is in the offing soon but for the rest of us we will have to wait patiently for them to travel further afield.
Released: June 2016
Label: Kolony Records