Written by Valkyrjiaa
Countless Skies – Resonance
> Melodic death metal
> Released May 5
> Willowtip Records
In late 2014, a glorious eruption broke the silence of the metal scene, and Countless Skies emerged with their self-titled EP. Inspired by dark, riveting ambiance and blending progressive elements from their melodeath heroes, Countless Skies has been given a sky of praise including festival invitations and a fanbase that spans well beyond the UK shoreline. In 2016 the band released their first full length, New Dawn, that received worldwide recognition as something uniquely tasteful yet oddly specific.
Now, the band re-emerges with Resonance, which features a select few tracks from their first two albums but accompanied by cellist Arianna Mahsayeh live in studio. Though the original versions of these songs are on New Dawn and Glow, the band mentions that “each track has unique parts written specifically for the cello, adding extra melodies and layers that help the songs to reach new heights.”
As we hit “Daybreak” we are greeted with the signature rhythms of Countless Skies and the bludgeoning riff work we’ve come to admire. As vocals stream across the skyline, the gentle, mellow hum of cello rings through, harmonizing with the seamless, melodic core to bring us something intimate and profound. It’s a new experience that still holds the memories of yesterday, offering up a sound that surprises new fans but welcomes back the old with a fresh perspective.
“Summit” erupts with the melodic heaviness, bringing in cherished choir alongside the battering drumbeat. Vocals touch upon a theater-like atmosphere once more, embracing the live studio serenity as if it were Broadway. As the harshness creeps in, the speed increases and the cello once more rises, higher than before and adding a beautiful tune that blends flawlessly with the song’s atmosphere. I love the unique blend of noise and soundscape that comes with this track, making it more adventurous when the vocals tune out for the second half. It’s immersive and quite complex for a track running along six minutes, but it makes it even more listenable as you go back to touch upon every note, and every bit of detail that Countless Skies manages to bring in.
Coming in as the longest, to no surprise, is “Glow” at just over 20 minutes. This track is an exploration of the stars, ascending higher and higher, beyond the atmosphere and the orbit that clutches us to bring us an ethereal cello that adds grace and finesse to a heavily melodic, and beautiful track. As the vocals chime in and the metal commences at full blast, we are reminded of the intricacies and layering that Countless Skies has developed so well with each of their creations. From deep, raspy lows, to the reminiscent highs, we are battered over and over with the battle of heaviness and tranquility, and the duality of our own emotional standing. It’s a track that stands alone yet fits well with the others, offering up a cinematic adventure from beginning to end. From bits of speed to gentle cues, there is a snippet of heartache, rage, and every experience thrown in before the final curtain call.
“Wanderer” glides in with a low headbang from side to side, quickly settling into your ears and calling your mind home. The extra instrumentals here really up this track from its original prowess, adding depth to the sorrow emitted from this wandering track. Harsh vocals contrast the cello so well here, really grinding against one another to keep focus and maintaining the loneliness that is heavily grasping this tune. It’s my favourite new accompanied track, with the cello fitting perfectly to compliment the heavy melody that “Wanderer” already strikes skyward with. The low solos, and endless steps from lifetime to lifetime, spanning across centuries and into timelessness as we slip beyond comprehension and into madness. There’s plight and fortune. A nostalgic taste of what was but cannot be recalled. Truly a perfect and magical track.
To carry us out is “Tempest”, bursting at the seams with tranquil shorelines and almost a folk-like feel. The rise and fall of curiosity and enigmatic storytelling are only amplified by the marvelous riff work that once again carries us through. As Arianna’s cello-work once more glides in, we get that classical feel, adding a touch of class to a track that’s already rich in emotion and vision. Once again proving that bringing in a taste of new to something old, Countless Skies perfects their unique take on melodic death metal once more. The Apocalyptica-style cello work that weaves through each selective track is ultimately perfected here. It takes that bassline and holds it, lengthening its impact and ultimately energizing the entire feel of this melody.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Though selective reworks, Countless Skies makes Resonance an entirely new listening experience by adding timeless instrumentals to their peculiar yet specific sound. It’s nostalgic yet, refreshing, with the recordings layering well with the additions to amplify their creations in ways that would once perplex or even bring laughter from those proposed to. Those looking to take in a classic, comforting sound with these melodic death metal legends would do well to take up Resonance and enjoy the newly shed light with open mind and open ears.