Released: 2009, Frontiers Records
It’s been a couple of years since we heard the impressive self-titled debut from Italy’s Pathosray. They blew me away with the technicality and musicality of that album so I was very interested to see where they would go with SUNLESS SKIES.
At first listen, I confess that I was actually quite disappointed with this album. While listening to it my mind kept wandering and I was actually bored with it at a couple of points. But, remembering that prog-metal is typically uninviting at first I listened to it again and again, and eventually the album opened itself up to me. Sure, “Crown of Thorns” opens the album in furious fashion with all of the impressive riffs and soaring vocals I expect from Pathosray, but the album quickly changes gears and the band offers up two ballad-esque songs in “Behind the Shadows” and “Aurora”. As always, Marco Sandron’s vocals shine, but these two songs were initially deflating for me as they killed the momentum of the album. Things pick up musically with “Quantic Enigma”, but oddly enough Sandron’s vocals drag this one down a bit as he switches to a half-growl for parts of the song, and uses a whisper at other points and it somehow doesn’t quite jive. This song is actually symptomatic of my initial problems with SUNLESS SKIES: something sounds slightly off about many of the songs. It seems that all of the pieces are there, but they somehow don’t quite add up like you expect them to. There are some standouts though, such as the aforementioned “Crown of Thorns”, the hard driving “Sons of the Sunless Sky”, and the epic “Poltergeist”.
As I said, this album just did not connect with me at first – to the point where I was debating rating it a “2”. That was very disappointing to say they least! But after many more listens I’ve come to appreciate SUNLESS SKIES quite a bit more. It’s still not on par with Pathosray’s debut album, but it’s very solid. I do recommend prog-metal fans checking out this album, but don’t be surprised if it takes a few spins for it to click.