We most recently encountered Skybrudd when we talked to them at Bloodstock last year and it was a pleasant surprise when they got in touch with us directly a few weeks ago to offer us their new album for an early listen. Unfortunately some health problems meant that my “to do” list wasn’t touched for a while, so the album was released last week before I could get the chance to tell you all about it!
The Norwegian doom metallers have opted to name this new release after themselves, and it consists of eight tracks of the heaviest, hardest music I’ve enjoyed for some time. Mixing slower passages with faster flurries, each track begs both raised fists and frantic moshing.
Opening number “Vile Redeemer” (check it out below) is as good a track as any to start on, and it covers all the bases. Harsh, pounding and – frankly – just a bit evil, it’s an absolute killer. If this whets your appetite then you’re going to love the rest of the album.
Rather than smack you between the eyes, “The Will of God” goes for a slow build-up and it’s throughout this that you notice how much the drums are a focus of Skybrudd’s sound. While they’re definitely noticeable in the first song, here they absolutely lead the band. I’m reminded of old-school Paradise Lost, but with much more emphasis on the rhythm section. “The Will of God” is a heart-rending and plaintive cry of a song.
The next three tracks form a trilogy. “Individ 808” parts I to III are each five minutes long (almost to the second). Part I comes across as an intro / overture while Part II is almost prog-metal. The vocals wouldn’t be out of place on an old Marillion album, while the guitars are ethereal. This is definitely not what you expect on a doom metal album… until around halfway through when the story takes a dark twist. Part III rounds things off and brings us back to what we’re used to – slow, brutal heavy metal. It’s an interesting experiment, and one that pays off by giving the album a unique central section.
Skybrudd again go all hippy-trippy with “Nøkken”, a short number which sounds like it’s in their native tongue. Just as you get used to the space dust and pixies, the title track rumbles into view… By no means grabbing you too hard from the off, there’s a nice little fifteen second intro before the forces of Hell are unleashed and we’re treated to a proper doom metal opus. By the time it’s through, neck muscles are cramping and guitars wailing. It’s atmospheric in a way wholly different from “Individ 808 (Part II)”, but equally as effective.
This is a hell of an album, showing a great variety of musical styles without ever feeling like it’s trying too hard. Managing to blend the traditional heavy sounds with near-prog sections is something I’ve really not encountered on this scale before and it really works. Skybrudd have a great release here, packed with originality as well as brutality.
Skybrudd is out now.
Header image by Sean Larkin Photography