Showing posts with label kingfisher sky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kingfisher sky. Show all posts

Friday, November 14, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

album review: 'arms of morpheus' by kingfisher sky

So here's an interesting situation: you're an technically minded musician, looking at pushing the boundaries of your craft, and you're part of a band that's on the precipice of breaking into the mainstream. And you know that if you start aiming to push for more complex progressions that are less commercially friendly, it could hold you back from that breakthrough. So what do you do - stick with simpler instrumentation that really aren't stretching you artistically, or forge a new path that will almost certainly be less commercially viable?

That was the choice Ivar de Graaf made when he left symphonic metal titan Within Temptation after their critically acclaimed album Mother Earth. And to some extent, it makes complete sense - Within Temptation were always a band with a keen eye to appealing to a more pop-friendly metal crowd, and de Graaf's desire to play more complex progressions and improve his compositional skills would almost certainly fly in the face of that. He still maintained a friendly relationship with Within Temptation and would occasionally play with them on later occasions, but in 2005 he collaborated with his wife Judith Rijnveld to form the progressive symphonic metal band Kingfisher Sky.

And here's the funny thing: listening through their debut album Hallway of Dreams in 2007, I definitely saw some real potential but I also was struggling to see the areas where Kingfisher Sky could stand out from the crowd. Keep in mind that not only did Within Temptation release The Heart of Everything that same year, Nightwish released Dark Passion Play in all of its folk-flavoured genre-bending might, and it's not hard to see how Kingfisher Sky might have been overshadowed simply for being quieter and having more restraint, their influences being less film scores and more Porcupine Tree, Kate Bush, and traditional folk. But I'd argue that being a little softer gave Kingfisher Sky a chance to develop their songwriting and acoustic textures, and while they did occasionally fall into cliche, they frequently were able to compensate for it. They followed that album with Skin Of The Earth in 2010, which was heavier and had tuned the songwriting a little finer, but it was at this point the lower production budget was definitely hampering the more symphonic side of the band, and while the guitars had crunch and some of the more progressive grooves were interesting, I found myself wishing that Judith Rijnveld was a more powerful vocalist or they could expand their sound into something with a little more import and scope.

In other words, I wasn't sure what to expect with their crowdfunded 2014 album Arms Of Morpheus - I expected to like it, but it's been a crowded year for symphonic metal. So how is it?