The World We Used To Know
12th January 2015 - Self-released
01. Collapse of Man
02. The End and the Rebirth
04. 15 Minutes
05. Elegance & Grace
06. Show’s Over
07. As the Sea Divides
11. The World We Used to Know
Way back in February 2013 we hosted the launch of the video for “15 Minutes“, the lead single for Shattered Skies‘ much-anticipated debut full-length The World We Used To Know - and now finally, after 23 months, a change of bass player and a couple of dramatic haircuts, the band are finally ready to release that album into the wild. In the fast-moving underground, a lot can happen in two years. Has it been worth the wait, or have Shattered Skies been left behind?
Thankfully, the answers to those questions are basically ‘yes it has’ and ‘no they haven’t’. Phew. And this is largely down to the embellishments Shattered Skies have brought to the basic modern, progressive metal template. To describe the sound of The World We Used To Know in terms that could fit on a Rizla, Shattered Skies’ fundamental sonic formula is ‘Queen goes djent’ – a prospect that may carry an equal capacity to enthrall and horrify, depending on your point of view.
After the obligatory brief, piano-led introduction, The World We Used To Know kicks off with the pair of previously released tracks: “The End And The Rebirth” and the aforementioned “15 Minutes“. Between them, the tracks effectively set out the band’s stall of uplifting, uptempo and outrageously catchy progressive metal. Right from the off, vocalist Sean’s classical training shines through, self-assuredly delivering his soaring melodies providing immediate hooks. It’s also clear his Freddie Mercury-isms extend past the half-micstand he has been seen brandishing on stage.
Sean’s melodies are more than ably backed up by guitarist Ian Rockett, and the main riff in “15 Minutes” must rank amongst the most infectious and earworm-friendly metal riffs in recent memory, channelled through a satisfyingly thick and crunchy tone. It also becomes quickly apparent that the decision to recruit Chimp Spanner live guitarist Jim Hughes to the vacant bass spot was something of a masterstroke, proving he has the chops to keep up with Ian’s tastefully deployed fretboard gymnastics. All of this is then underpinned by Ross McMahon’s solid and relatively minimalist drumming, which is given a bit of an eighties twist with a generous helping of reverb.
Things take quite a surprising turn with fifth track “Elegance and Grace“, which may be the first full-bore, lighters aloft, arena-sized power ballad written on an eight string. Such a track might prove to be a double-edged sword, simultaneously broadening the band’s spectrum of appeal whilst turning off some factions of their original audience who might find it just a little….well…cheesy.
However, if a touch of cheese isn’t a deal breaker for you, then there is much to be enjoyed here. The dramatic piano lines in “As The Sea Divides” push it into Muse territory whilst retaining all the chunky djent hallmarks on which the band made their name; and certainly, the feat of writing credibly heavy riffs with major-key sounding chord progressions should not be underestimated. There are also some other neat little flourishes throughout, in particular a deft and pleasing slapped riff in “Saviours“. For the album’s title track, which closes out the disc, Shattered Skies go full “Bohemian Rhapsody“, churning out a vast and sprawling eleven minute odyssey that manages – against all odds – to avoid being weapons grade self-indulgence.
There aren’t many lowlights in The World We Used To Know, although “Aesthetics” is somewhat let down by a slightly disappointing chorus. At times, the guitar tone does rather over-dominate proceedings too, but in the main, The World We Used To Know is a remarkably engaging listen. It is fair to say that the theatrics will not float everyone’s boat, and anyone looking for a brutal dose of wintery nihilism would be better off looking elsewhere, but, the collision of muscular riffing and sunnier pop sensibilities is almost surprisingly successful and displays some mature and genuine songwriting talents.
Given the delays in the release of The World We Used To Know, we can only hope that the process of writing its follow-up is already well underway, but given the quality of songs on offer here, there’s plenty to keep us going while we wait.