Dark Sky – Signs of the Time (Metalapolis Records)

Monday, 31st July 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

Founded as a school band in the early 80’s, German act Dark Sky released a series of demos before issuing a debut album Believe It in 1998 that garnered success in Asia. Slowly gaining more attention in mainland Europe through subsequent album releases, they’ve arrived at their seventh studio album for Signs of the Time. Unfortunately, the pandemic caused a severe shift in the lineup as only founding member vocalist Frank Breuninger remains – assembling four new recruits to execute this latest set of material. What you’ll hear through these thirteen tracks is a melodic heavy metal style that contains a lot of AOR influences as keyboards share equal space with the guitar parts to make for a catchy musical cocktail.

Smartly building on a strong friendship with current German superstars Kissin’ Dynamite, Frank established some co-writing opportunities with singer Hannes Braun and drummer Andi Schnitzer – which allows songs such as “Forgiveness” and “You & Me” to possess that current level of melodic punch plus charm to appeal to multiple generation of fans. Occasional pounding anthem strains appear with sprinkling of equally bouncy keyboard patches for “Zombies” – Frank creating this wide array of vocals through interesting choir placement and calmer, almost Alice Cooper-ish verse vibes, while the wild guitar break from Jadro Bastalic intensifies the main hooks. Most listeners will probably be able to pick out the main sources of influence: Pretty Maids, Axxis, and Helloween three obvious ones when absorbing tracks like “Heroes On Ice”, the crunchy/driving “We’re Falling”, or commercial-leaning, 80’s-oriented “In the Heat of the Night”. There are times when the musical interplay through keyboard/guitar syncopation plus double kick/progressive drumming showcases a bit more sophistication (“Fools” the clearest example), which keeps listener engagement a bit higher than on the normal, highly choir or vocal harmony driven efforts.

Dark Sky carry a lot of trademarks that are distinctly European-flavored, which could be killer to some but drive others away as being a bit too bland or predictable. Signs of the Time should be a sleeper gem, as this is ideal for those who like melodic metal that focuses on memorable hooks/songwriting with smaller bursts of energetic musicianship when called for.

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