Auxilium // Vol. I
23rd January – Self-released
01. Circling The Drain
02. No One’s Safe
03. Hold On For Your Life
05. The Reprisal
Speaking from experience, coming back from a major setback is never easy, especially for a band so hotly tipped as the next big thing and Shattered Skies are no exception to the rule. Having lost long term vocalist Sean Murphy to family commitments, it was bound to be a difficult tear to mend, as I mentioned back in my top 10 of 2015, in which I voted their stellar debut The World We Used To Know #10.
Sean’s distinctive power metal-esque vocals were an interesting and fresh sound in a scene where many emulate bands like Periphery and TesseracT. Shattered Skies took a more pop approach, drawing from influences like Queen and Muse, resulting in a sound akin to Leprous writing chart music. They filled his shoes last year and tested the water with a handful of shows, but have been otherwise quiet.
Now the band has surprised their followers the sudden release of a new EP, Auxilium (Vol. I). Shattered Skies likely had countless debates over how to revitalise interest, but this seems like as good a strategy as any; if nothing else, people will talk about the unexpectedness of it
New vocalist Gerry Brown brings a similar tone to the band as Murphy did, which means the transition is not major – however, while he does bring fleeting screams to some of the parts, there isn’t as much power behind his cleans. That said, without comparing the material unfairly, his effect on the new tracks works well. maintaining a level of drama while remaining hugely catchy .
As before, the riff work of Ian Rockett and the technical flourishes from drummer Ross McManon are a stand out feature, and new bassist Harley Cotton does a great job matching them. “Circling The Drain” and “No One’s Safe” boast Shattered Skies’ signature crushing riffs, present despite what could be argued as a move towards more progressive elements.
One of the EP’s highlights is Rockett’s virtuosic piano on “Hold On For Your Life”, which is reminiscent of Muse’s “Butterflies & Hurricanes” and something most certainly worth exploring on future releases. The subtle electronics and pads that underpin the songs help elevate them to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the tech scene’s best, complimenting the melodies perfectly.
Auxilium is a strong recovery from Shattered Skies and probably the first installment of two, so we’re excited for the band to reclaim their position in the scene.