Secrets of the Sky – Pathway (Metal Blade)

Thursday, 30th April 2015
Rating: 9/10

After a successful run with 2013’s To Sail Black Waters and a split last year with Godhunter, California’s Secrets of the Sun managed to impress the fine folks over at Metal Blade, who now bring us the band’s second album, Pathway. The band’s successful genre-blurring continues to be their calling card, and if there’s any justice in the world around us, many more will be turning their ears towards the band in the very near future.

In contrast with To Sail Black Waters, there are some changes. Things are tightened up a bit (as they tend to do with more experience) and the reigns have been drawn in a bit with the song length. Pathway’s longest track is 8 minutes, which is about what the shortest song was on their debut. Within these shorter tracks are more focus and well-roundedness. Each track has a story to tell, and does not feel the need to go the round-about way. These are thought-out yet direct, punchy, and emotional tracks – from atmospheric bliss to oppressive doom. Secrets of the Sky runs a gamut that includes nods to bands from Anathema to Agalloch, from My Dying Bride to The Ocean, covering a broad spectrum that never gets bogged down in the trappings of conforming to one particular style.

Much like the varied musical approach, one of the true highlights is that of vocalist Garett Gazay, who goes from ethereal/anguished clean vocals to howls, roars, and rasps. Going from a repeated, heartbreaking clean line of “I don’t care anymore” on “Another Light” to a venomous snarl on “Eternal Wolves,” Gazay carries an impressive range. One point that could have sealed Pathway’s fate for the worse is that of the interludes. Of the 13 tracks, 7 are instrumental in nature, acting as mood-setters between the songs. To the band’s credit, the interludes are not skippable affairs, bringing a subtle atmosphere that would be lost without their presence. Not to mention the cyclic nature of “VII” back to “I.” Secrets of the Sky have seemingly made every note mandatory in their quest to design an epic, yet downtrodden atmosphere.

Sure to be the next buzz band, Secrets of the Sky prove they’re worthy of the status with Pathway. From doom to post to psychedelic to death and black, Secrets of the Sky has you covered. An emotionally draining journey, it’s the type of album that you can just close your eyes and visualize your own tale, even as some parts seem to prop up only after repeated listens. All of the inner workings of a great and resonating album.

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