Every now and then, a band holds expectations hostage by spooning up some hybrid heaviness; Spain’s Skydancer are like that. Part thrash metal and part melodeath, Skydancer delve into the tales from Galicia, the band’s native district. The newest album, Land of the Grim, leans toward an ancestral remembrance underneath a tough tunefulness.
Raspy, harsh vocals latch onto “Swamp Tomb,” signaling a less abrasive death metal approach. Before you know it, low-keyed thrash riffs amp up the mix. “Ancestral Lands” breaks out thunderous drums, while “L’Even” hums with a weepy solo and wispy key strokes. “The Ferryman” lets vocals thrust outward in rhythm, and one of “O Peso Do Tempo”‘s key features is the slowly needled tremolo-picking in and out of the track.
The majority of Land of the Grim fetches tried-and-true metal methods, but Skydancer play in a way that masks typical thrashing or melodeath; it simply leaves you to peel back layers of recollection and sit comfortably with the flow. The mix favors bass; drums are crushing, and the guitars are low and full. As “Ancares” coasts with a heavy spirit, it’s easy to sense the outpouring of emotion on this record. It’s also simple to feel the folksy undertones here, as announced on “O Peso Do Tempo.” Even though the compositions aren’t extraordinarily prominent, very little keeps Land of the Grim from sticking with you.