Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Until The Sky Dies - The Year Zero Blueprint


Tracklist:

1. I
2. II
3. III
4. IV
5. V
6.VI
7. VII
8. VIII

Hats off to Cimmerian Shade Recordings on this one. The label has managed to release a record by a band that I can't seem to find any information about. Maybe that was the whole idea but I'm not complaining, I'll just let the music do the talking, Anyway, this is the debut full-length from doom duo Until The Sky Dies and it was released at the end of October. The band is made up of prolific musician Clint Listing (Grizzle, Long Winters Stare, etc)  and Ryan Michalski (Cosmic Punch) the latter recording and engineering the record. It was mixed and mastered by J. Stillings (Steel Hook Prostheses, etc). As always I've kept a wide birth from other publications, as I didn't want them to influence my review.

I find the genre descriptor of “doom” to be pretty primitive in the case of Until The Sky Dies. For example, opening song I is a bizarre mix of psych/desert-rock instrumentation, low growls and clean singing that could be mistaken for that of Matt Bellamy (Muse). That may be way off the mark but I calls it as I hear’s it. I do like the fact that Until The Sky Dies uses just Roman numerals as song-titles, as it leaves more to the imagination when you’re listening to the songs. 

The nursery rhyme-esque synths at the start of II are completely at odds with the extremity that follows soon-after but from a band described as avant-garde by some, what else would you expect. As with the album opener, there seems to be an element of minimalism within the music. II turns out to be a slow-burning slugger of a jam that would give any established darling of the doom scene a run for their money. III is more upbeat with a cool yet sinister guitar melody at its core. It’s also noticeable how bass heavy and hypnotic it is. 

The general scuzziness of the record (I mean that in a nice way) and the odd rock ’n’ roll breakouts are what add charm to it. It’s those breakouts that make IV an inviting beast. Yet more Muse comparisons come to mind here. Until The Sky Dies head into even more bizarre musical territory on V, switching between oddly industrial verses and off-kilter passages that are kind of bluesy. I’m beginning to think this is the sort of record that can’t be truly appreciated unless you’re under the influence of not-so-legal substances. I just have a beer!  

Upbeat rock is the overarching musical direction on VI, which makes reference in it’s lyrics to the album’s title and also contains an air of fantasy thanks to the use of synths. Once again it’s extremely well executed and seems to fit the context of the record perfectly. The band’s heavier side returns on penultimate song VII with the vocals taking more of a black metal turn before giving way to plenty of groove and rhythm. 

As you’ll have guessed by now, there’s plenty going on here musically. There aren’t that many bands that have the confidence to produce a record like this so the duo are a breath of fresh air. Electronic beats and synths figure heavily on closing song VIII, which strips back on the heaviness once more in favour of something a little lighter. Most people will have a certain level of tolerance when it comes to extreme and avant-garde music. Until The Sky Dies seems to both test that tolerance while remaining musically interesting and original. I’d say that’s a success. Good work.

You can stream the record and buy it in various formats below:-



Cimmerian Shade Recordings - https://www.facebook.com/CimmerianShadeRecordings/

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