Sound — 10
Skyharbor is a furious force to be reckoned with and deserves your attention. The mastermind behind this progressive metal sound is Keshav Dhar, a musician in India who created Skyharbor out of the remnants of his first project "Hydrodjent". The fact that Basick Records has added them to their ever expanding catalogue of talented musicians makes their debut album demand that much more attention to be listened to and appreciated. This double disc album offers everyone something to enjoy. Split into the "Illusion" and "Chaos" concept discs, Skyharbor pounds out their diverse arrangements of sounds to keep the listener pleased. The "Illusion" disc features the talents of singer Daniel Tompkins (ex-TesseracT), Vishal J. Singh (Amogh Symphony), and classic heavy metal heavyweight Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth). Aside from the expert guest solo works on this album, "Illusion" comes right out of the gate with the powerful presence that is "Dots". Pounding riffs, atmospheric layering, and rhythmically diverse yet precise instrumental work set the tone for the remainder of the album. Daniel Tompkins sings skillfully and creatively over each transition, adding to the rich texture of Keshav Dhar's creations. Moving into "Order 66", a groovy riff paired with Tompkins' voice is reminiscent of TesseracT, but with such a beautiful repetition that hardly needs to change to be effective. Next on the list is the early released track "Catharsis", showcasing a rich melodic and harmonic texture that is never stagnant. Full of powerful chorus riffs, atmospheric layers of guitar paired with Tompkins' vocal harmonies, and topped off with Marty Friedman's guest solo. I heard this before the album release and it is still one of my favorite tracks off the album. The next two tracks play on each other's opposites, as "Night" is a beautiful, ballad-like tune as opposed to Aurora's proud, declarative presence. Another pre-released track comes next, "Celestial", where some of the catchiest riff and vocal works collide with perfect synergy, making it a definite a highlight on this album. Ending off with "Maeva", you think "Amazing, definitely worth my money", and as you take the disc out to put it back into its case, you see that Disc 2 has yet to be experienced. "Chaos" is just that: a frenzy of riffs showing off the diversity of Skyharbor to its fullest extent. Gone are Tompkins' vocals, as the vocal work is done by Sunneith Revankar (Rhayanak Maut), and the difference is striking yet beautiful. Laying on heavy, down-tuned riffs couple with furious drum work, it is a fitting contrast to "Illusion" that can't help but be repeated after listening through this shorter disc.
Lyrics — 9
Lyrically the album is full of great content, Tompkins and Revankar play to their strengths and deliver a fresh sound among the clutter of modern day metal clones. While the lyrically content is poetic in itself, the delivery is what makes the album whole. Both vocalists time their screams and clean vocals in such a balanced way that you are never left yearning for either one. The range of both vocalists lets choruses soar higher and pounding riffs pound harder, and this diversity compliments the variety of instrumentation that is seen on the album.
Overall Impression — 9
Honestly, this is one of the best releases of 2012 in my opinion. It's fresh, it's new, it's promising, and it's always a good album to listen to. Great instrumental work, skilled vocalists, and beautiful song structures make this album awesome to listen to for guitar geeks and music enthusiasts alike. Check this group out, and keep looking for new content by them and other artists in the Basick Records family!