Review by Leo Charlton
At 7 tracks long and just over 28 minutes in length, it’s debatable whether October Sky’s sophomore full-length, The Aphotic Season, should really be considered an LP at all. Then again, Slayer’s Reign in Blood is roughly the same length, and the jury’s well and truly out on that one. Regardless, coming off the back of a well-received debut in the form of 2008’s Hell Isn’t My Home – for which they have won a handful of awards in their native Canada – October Sky know how to construct Berlin-sized walls of sound.
Opening track and first official single ‘Dark Vision’ takes influences from Muse’s Origin of Symmetry (specifically ‘Bliss’) and The Rasmus’ Dead Letters in the form of colossal guitar chords, eerie arpeggiators, crashing drums and an omnipresent bass thrum. The lyrics might not match up to the quality of the music (Chorus: ‘Can I believe in good times / Will I see them again / Can I remember where I’m from / Will I forget’. Bleurgh) but, woah! What’s happened to Karl Raymond’s voice?! They weren’t bad to begin with – just a little scrappy – but now they’re eminently more forceful and controlled, the falsetto sounding like an effortless extension of his natural register. It all equates to a precision strike aimed directly at both eardrums. And it hits the mark.
The “album” may have its weak points, specifically in ‘Air’s opening (couldn’t be more bland unless it was a cucumber) and now a little over-indulgent, seemingly obligatory use of a whammy-pedal guitar solo. We get that whammy pedals are cool, but this was one time too many. ‘Green and Beautiful’ is largely forgettable, and ‘Distance’ is a typical filler track that is predominantly instrumental. A shame really, as the music that comprises the majority of the track is neither ambient enough to set a suitable mood, nor virtuosic enough to hold one’s attention long enough to start caring.
That being said though, the pros largely obliterate the cons. ‘Prisoner of Nothing’ is a musically dark alt-rocker that takes cues from everyone from Placebo through The Weeknd (see ‘Life of The Party’), all the way to Darren Hayes (if gloomy rock was more to his taste than sugary pop), whilst ‘Angel One’ sees portam synth stabs kick off this electrified mover, the sound (and particularly the lyrics) not a million miles away from that of the new Linkin Park material.
It’s a solid entry that builds no end on the foundations laid by October Sky’s debut. If improvement is an exponential curve (it isn’t usually, but here’s to hoping!) then let’s hope we don’t have to wait long for the next release.
Recommended: Dark Vision // Prisoner of Nothing // Fall Back Down
Review by Leo Charlton