What you see before you is Simulacrum’s second album set to be released on the 28th of this month through Inverse Records. For those of you who may not know, Simulacrum is a Finnish progressive metal band that strongly focuses on sci-fi and draws from just about anything sci-fi from books, to movies, to music, to everything sci-fi. Their last album released was in 2012 and it is titled The Master and the Simulacrum. As far as this effort goes it seems more focused and more driven. Perhaps the fact that the album was kept within the band as far as the recording, mixing and mastering, the music videos and the art work goes that kept the band more focused to release something that is more focused.
Sky Divided begins with the shortest song on the album titled “Time Lapse”. The song begins with synths and horns as well as other instruments, but soon dives into the metallic aspects of the song. The double bass of the drums kicks the song off properly followed by more swirling key boards creating a soundscape and a world that plays a huge part throughout the album.
After the solid intro into Sky Divided, Simulacrum do a great job of establishing an atmosphere as well as doing a great job of having you listen to the music and the stories that they weave throughout the album. With the run times of the songs being as long as they are-varying from three minutes to the longest at fourteen-they are able to create an explorable world in which they are your heavy metal guides.
Sky Divided wouldn’t be such a world if all of the songs worked against each other creating stories all on their own instead of being cohesive working together to create this symphonic world. As I mentioned above, the run times are long and with long songs and with people’s attention spans decreasing you have to keep them focused. With Simulacrum they keep you focused and zeroed in on what the bigger picture is here and that is instead of just the music being played it almost unfolds as a movie or a play.
With the theatrical vocals being coupled with the keyboard you can understand that this is or could be something more than just an album. There are of course the metallic fiery riffs and solos on this album that we all love and enjoy, but not everything is a metallic onslaught or has to be. There are nice sections in each of the songs that really showcase the vocalists voice and let him belt it out with the best. With the showcasing of the vocalists talents and with the songs slowing down it allows the keyboardist to work his magic as well showing off some ear pleasing soundscapes of saxophone solos as well as other spot on orchestral pieces.
The atmosphere that the keyboardist and vocalist provide never overshadows the crunchy riffs and pin point drumming that is being displayed. All of the elements that are mixed into the album never overshadow each other. The keyboards don’t overshadow the vocalist, the vocalist never overshadows the fiery riffs and pummeling drums that back him. The riffs are fast and calculated adding more urgency to the album as well as grit. The drums are impressive all on their own as well keeping pace with the riffs and being just as calculated. Between the riffs and the drums is the bass and it gets its proper time to shine throughout the album. The bass gives Sky Divided the extra crunch that it needs as well as providing the album with some bass solos along the way which are always welcomed.
Through and through Sky Divided is a sci-fi album meant to tell a story and it does just that. Never slowing down for too long, Simulacrum keep the head banging edge of metal and find a way to combine and find a happy medium between the metal and the symphonic components that make up the album. Sci-fi metal and being as progressive as possible is the very ethos of this band, and after their last release this is a good transformation. Overall Sky Divided is a good album. One to head bang to, one to sing along with, and one to just enjoy. The album is out the 28th of this month, be sure to check out Simulacrum!