Metal, in all its glorious forms, has always been the type of music that is built upon pure, unadulterated, raw emotion. Whether that emotion is anger or sadness or something else equally trying to the human psyche will go a long way towards just what brand of metal a band will deal in. For certain bands their collective emotional cycle must be the equivalent to nature’s unpredictable weather patterns. That would certainly be one explanation for Oakland’s Secrets Of The Sky and their brand of somewhat schizophrenic doom.
Don’t think that by calling this album, To Sail Black Waters, schizophrenic that it means it is scattered or hard to comprehend in some way. It’s only given that label because of the gamut of emotions this album runs through in only four (albeit long) tracks. There’s the almost black metal like ferocity that meets with the melancholic and atmospheric doom, accompanied by the post-rock exclamation points that dot the record. California has historically been a breeding ground for bands that take doom metal’s blueprint and basically tear it into a million little pieces. Saint Vitus, Neurosis, Mindrot, and Morgion are just a few examples and a decent starting point of reference for this band as well.
Although much more atmospheric and cerebral than Saint Vitus ever was Secrets Of The Sky’s love of the almighty riff, (as evidenced by the driving one finishing up the track, “Decline” or the battering riff at the beginning of “Black Waters”), is enough to trace the musical thread connecting the two. Secrets Of The Sky are so much more than the sum total of their influences though. Doom metal in general is a tricky field to hoe. There are a lot of different ways that a band can take this style of music and muddy it like a toddler trying to dial a phone and just mashing the keypad until someone finally picks up. Secrets Of The Sky though are quickly becoming masters of taking so many different elements and styles and weaving them into this unique tapestry of sounds and aural experiences. The vocals range from tortured screams to death grunts to a clean and soaring affair. The instrumentation is all over the map, including three clobbering guitars, keys/synths and violin. Yet it all comes together in a brutally powerful array of those emotions we were discussing earlier. There’s are equal parts beauty and despair on this record, often times all within one track, and that’s a hard enough feat to manage.
To Sail Black Waters will hit the streets in the US on October 8th and in Europe on October 4th/5th through Kolony Records. You can whet your appetite by checking out the track “Decline” over at the band’s Facebook page.