Formed in Cardiff, South Wales in 2015, And The Sky Darkened are a hard rock band that ticks a lot of boxes for me. Having previously released their debut EP, The Fracture in 2017, the band now drops the follow up EP, Between Ghosts.
You know from the very moment that Burden Hardest To Bear kicks things off, that this is not just your run of the mill hard rock music. The guitars from Ollie Hansen and Ryan Lewis are sublime, and the rhythm provided by Matt “Animal” Thomas on drums and James ‘O Donovan on bass is almost mechanical. Then there are the vocals, also provided by Lewis – grizzled and heavy when required, but melodic and accessible for the most part.
Turn These Eyes Blind continues the proceedings, but becomes even more accessible. Sure there are still flourishes of aggression, but overall, this track is full of crisp and clean vocals, with brilliant harmonies, and some guitar work that is truly awesome. Coupled with more precision drumming, this track shows the growth and progression from the first EP perfectly.
According to Lewis, Between Ghosts is their most focused work to date, and while the back catalogue isn’t exactly extensive, this is very fair to say.
Next track, The Darkened Await, is the absolute highlight of the 21 minute EP for me. This track is heavy and overflowing with groove, yet I don’t think that the heaviness will turn anybody that enjoyed the first two tracks away. Featuring some blistering solos, and guitars that completely soar, all over The Darkened Awaits six minute duration is the hook for me, but the gravely vocals really worked as well. This is the standout track, without question.
The title track is the closing number, and it is a bit out of left field compared to what came before, dipping a toe in to ballad territory, but not a corny ballad. Not at all. This is beauty to The Darkened Awaits beast, the gentle side of a band that often leans more toward aggression. It’s a strong closer, and demonstrates the multi-faceted talent of And The Sky Darkened very well.
These guys are making tremendous music – and definitely left me wanting for more. I can’t wait to see where they go from here.