Skylark


Divine Gates Part 1 - Gate Of Hell

Skylark - Divine Gates Part 1 - Gate Of Hell ©1999 Underground Symphony Productions
1. Intro
2. Welcome
3. The Triumph
4. Belzebu
5. The Last Question
6. Earthquake
7. I Can't Find Love Tonight
8. Satan Arise
9. Why Did You Kill The Princess
10. Lift For The Sky
11. Dance Of Stars

This is the fourth release from Skylark, an Italian symphonic power metal band. I am beginning to think that phrase "Italian Symphonic Power Metal Band" ought to become a sub-genre within heavy metal. It would simplify things if we could give it a neat acronym like "ItSyPoMB" or something l33T like that. (Can you hear my eyes rolling?)

This is the first of a two part concept album from Skylark. It comes complete with virtually the same naked woman from Kamelot's The Fourth Legacy. What is it with bands adorning their CDs with naked women? It is similar to many other ItSyPoMB discs in that the singer has a very noticeable accent that detracts from his singing. For the most part the singing is very good. There are a couple stratospheric moments where he seems to be inventing new notes, but the incredible range of his voice and the way he uses it throughout the album balances any really negative aspects to the singing. It is also similar in the nature of its bombastic, overblown content.

The concept of the album is sweeping and grand, almost along the lines of a production from Ayreon. It includes a cast of several characters and is terrifically orchestrated from beginning to end. Wrestling with life and death, it is a concept that fits well into the immensity of Skylark's creative talents. The precision and play on this album are top notch. There is a tremendous amount of talent in this band. The sweep from metal to classical is made very smoothly. The whole scheme is enormous. Skylark, working as a unit, manage to carry it off very well. Musically, there are many comparisons to be made with Stratovarius, Rhapsody, Blind Guardian and Edguy. I can't say enough about the talent of this band. The guitars blaze along with the keys and the choruses surround and buffet the listener into happy oblivion. There is a very large amount of music crammed into the songs.

Fans of ItSyPoMB and other more normal genres, like power metal or symphonic metal will drool over this disc and its successor.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 12/2000

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Divine Gates Part 2 - Gate Of Heaven

Skylark - Divine Gates Part 2 - Gate Of Heaven ©2000 Underground Symphony Productions
1. Among The Clouds
2. Who Is God?
3. Lady Of The Sky
4. Monday 13 October
5. Insanity Is The Truth
6. The Guardian Angel
7. The Heaven Church
8. Last Christmas In Hell
9. Outro

Skylark are back with the second part of their most recent epic production. This album comes to you complete with a new naked lady on the cover. Perhaps this is to show you the difference between one locale and the other? Anyway, naked women aside, this disc rocks.

The music gallops along at a breakneck pace pausing for some quiet interludes along the way. The sound is tightly meshed and interwoven with grandeur and panache that comes only form the epic symphonic power metal played by bands like Skylark who know how to work as a unit. The concept is neatly continued in what really could have been a double CD set rather than a part one and part two release.

That said, much of the review of the first disc is applicable here. Very little has changed. The scope of the project with its little drama is as big as the first part and neatly answers the first part. While it is not new in an innovative way, it brings a sense of resolution to the first disc. The singing is a bit more mature, though still stratospherically operatic. The quiet interludes are more introspective, but I think that is what the band had in mind in their composition. The grand drama is brought to a neat closure.

Fans of epic metal really ought to give Skylark a listen. They stand head and shoulders above the typical band in the complexity and maturity of their projects. Skylark's ability to manipulate the atmosphere against which their music is displayed is masterful. This album represents the best they have released to date, and shows a lot of promise for the future.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 12/2000

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