Sound — 9
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to ride a dragon that came with a beer fountain, and an unlimited cheeseburger supply? Probably not, but that's alright, this is so much more than that...
"Skin and Bone," the debut album from L.A. band Sparrow, combines multiple elements and styles, to form an infectious blend of melody and heaviness. The album stands out in a sea of repetitive, overproduced, and overdone technical instrument wankery.
Opening with a synth carnivalesque theme, accompanied by heavy guitar, bass, and drums, the album instantly draws in the listener. The vocals are clean and audible, with an edge that fits the musical stylings very well. A haunting intro soon bleeds into punk and rock styles within the first song "A Mountain Ahead."
The guitar riffs are tasteful and powerful. Timbus (Nekrogoblikon's co-founder and former guitarist/multi instrumentalist) uses an excellent combination of simple and technical styles that suit each moment in the song. The guitar tone is not overly distorted, and every note can be heard clearly. The guitar solos are very well preformed, and steer away from the mechanical, almost machine-like quality of many modern guitar solos. Kevin Dixon's bass provides a tighter low end than a miser with the s$%*s on a roller coaster. The bass can be easily heard in the mix, which perfectly complements the high end when needed. Kevin also plays several bass leads that match with the guitar lead and create a harmony. The drums, performed by Tyler Frenzel (former drummer for Johnny Horne) add a healthy variety of technicality, without becoming over the top. The beats have a modest feel, but each song has beautifully performed twists and flairs that both musicians and listeners alike can appreciate.
Alex Duddy (former live member for bands such as Nekrogoblikon and Horse The Band) provides a glorious yet chilling vocal melody to wrap up each song into a story, or a concept, that will find its way into your head and stay there. From eerie melodies to screams, the vocals will keep the listener fixated on every story. Every individual instrument and performance on this album has the weight to stand alone, but is fitted together as one small piece, to serve each song perfectly.
Lyrics — 10
The opening track ("A Mountain Ahead") previews the moods and concepts for the album. The reoccurring themes found in this song are spotted throughout the album. The daily trials and choices faced by everyone that attempts to work hard and achieve some sort of hollow success. The means that may be available are always a double edged sword, and have further reaching consequences than benefits.
The integration of Sisyphus compares the everyday dead end job to Sisyphus rolling an enchanted boulder to the top of a mountain, yet to have it roll back down once he neared the top. The comparison symbolizes the futility of working such jobs only to the benefit of the corporation.
The concepts continue to reference Greek mythos in everyday struggles of being a cog in a corporate machine. Some of the songs seem to hint at the inner turmoil of the learned behaviors that cause the repetition. To continuously pass on the belief that one should go to school, assimilate, pay their dues, work hard to benefit their family, their country, and themselves.
This album carries an important message, delivered with excellent metaphors.
Overall Impression — 9
Over half of the songs are less than 4 minutes long and may leave some people wishing they were slightly longer. The album has a sound and a feel to it that you just won't hear when compared with mass produced, over edited albums. When listening to this album, I feel as though I am actually at the studio while they are recording it. The album is very catchy without overuse of riffs, or hooks. The clean vocals and moderated use of screams allows the album to stand out from other rock/metal albums, making it the f#$%ing unicorn of its genre.
Whether you choose to itemize or listen to this album as the entire package, it is easily one of the most well-constructed and enjoyable albums of 2015. It's amazing. I would recommend to those that enjoy rock, metal, punk or alternative... or music in general.