Under Red Skies are a fairly young and new band with their last single, Plummet, featuring the legendary Duncan Bentley of Vulvodynia as a guest vocalist, being the last review for them in over a year. In that time period, the band have been mostly quiet on social media with only brief posts here and there and with interesting lineup changes with some members leaving while others returned leading to the current lineup that we have where the band now have not one but TWO vocalists, a drummer, and one guitarist.
Anyways, the last time Under Red Skies released music, they had a more raw styled sound of deathcore with lyrical themes and atmospheric elements that could easily draw parallels to some of Carnifex’ MySpace era releases. However, with Primordial Void, the band have shifted their focus to more cinematic and grandios lyrical themes to match the tone and pacing of their music as well as their more cosmic horror/sci-fi themed visuals. As for their sound, well, it’s definitely a major upgrade and more unique sound with a distinct atmosphere that separates them from your average run of the mill deathcore band. Produced and mixed by Zambian based songwriter/producer/visual artist, Calvaire (who I have reviewed before on this site) the track not only sounds great, but, definitely something that can easily compete with the best new modern metal acts around.
This is mostly due to the fact that there is a lot of influence from artists such as Humanity’s Last Breath, Cabal, Mick Gordon, Akhlys, Code Pandorum, and Celldweller which gives this song not only not only a modern movie score touch, but, all the eerie, brooding, and sinister vibes of black metal without actually being a black metal track. This upgrade in production really adds to the song as all these influences come together to create something original that while paying homage to it’s various influences, doesn’t try to copy them. Under Red Skies definitely made the right call here to call in a producer who not only knows what they are doing, but, is capable of creating soundscapes that actually make the track feel like it was composed for a movie or tv show so that the label of ‘cinematic deathcore’ doesn’t feel like some kind of marketing gimmick to get attention. Each part of the song feels like it was written to sync up with the visuals of a specific type of scene in a movie, the same way most Yoko Kanno scores in anime series feel and as a person who likes to have a visual aspect tied to the music I listen to, it is definitely something I could appreciate.
The track has this slow, sludgy, and abysally heavy melodic motif that is broken up with brief moments of black metal inspired tremolo segments that allow for some interesting glitch samples to shine through in between the breakdowns. This is accompanied by some truly fantastic drumming that while on the doom metal side for the most part, does switch things up with the odd blast beat and double kick moment to keep the song from feeling to repetitive or boring. The drums also tow this fine line of sounding like your usual modern metal sounding drums while also sounding like the more natural drum sound you would hear from black metal bands like Inferno or Cult Of Fire. As I was saying, these little break ups also mean that when the bass drops, it drops really hard which gives the sonic impression of a meteor hitting the earth and completely blasting your ears into oblivion. Aside from the HLB influence on those drops, from a score point of view, it would be the same as the drops in any Hans Zimmer track with the only difference being if Hans Zimmer ever composed a thall song instead of making the same Dark Knight/Inception drop over and over again.
There are also some underlying, subtle synths that give off this ‘hell choir’ kind of vibe that add to the eerie atmosphere of the music. I don’t know if choir is even the right way to describe it, but, it’s definitely something similar to the stlye of atmospheric samples Akhlys uses in their music. These elements are found pretty much anywhere in the song but they surprisingly shine through best when placed behind Anthony Hawkin’s incredible vocal performance. Anthony is able to shift seemlessly between ear splitting high shrieks to low guttural growls. But instead of using his vocals as a means to flex his range like a lot of deathcore vocalists tend to do nowadays, Anthony actually shifts his tones the way the a narrator would when reading a story. Anthony’s vocal performance kind of reminded me of the way Seregor of Carach Angren uses vocal narration in their music. The only difference hear being that Anthony is using more deathcore orientated vocal techniques and is narrating the song in the same way a cult ritual from Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos would be performed instead of being a ghost from a typical gothic horror novel.
Of course I cannot forget that there is a guest feature on this single from none other than Alex Derose of the blackened deathcore band, Bog Wraith. While his feature is rather brief and I do wish that he had a few more lines here and there in the song, having his segement placed at the very end and the tone and delivery of it actually reminded me a lot of the way Bound In Fear did their feature with Alex Teyen of Black Tongue. Impactful, brutal, and fitting of being the curtain closer to an already heavy track.
If Under Red Skies continue with this style and sound, I am confident that they will probably be one of the more stand out acts in metal and as far as the South African metal scene is concerned, will definitely succeed in being one of those breakout artists the same way that Vulvodynia were before them. However, only time will tell, but, for now all I can say is that I was very impressed with this considering how much their material has evolved in sound and scope since the last time they dropped music. I highly recommend checking this single out if you are looking for something different and fresh in your deathcore while still remaining in familar territory to genres and sounds that you already like.
Written By: Russell Gainsford
Under Red Skies ONLINE:
Instagram: UNDER RED SKIES (@urs.cult) • Instagram photos and videos
Facebook: (6) UNDER RED SKIES | Facebook
Bandcamp: UNDER RED SKIES (bandcamp.com)
Spotify: Spotify – Under Red Skies