Kingfisher Sky is the brainchild of drummer Ivar de Graaf, formerly of Within Temptation, and vocalist Judith Rijnveld. While the music itself is very guitar-focused, one finds the drumming here is far removed from the conventional rock and metal style. de Graaf is a great composer, constructing percussive groundwork that is interesting and dynamic without being distracting. It's his drumming, such as that in "The Craving" from Hallway Of Dreams, that originally made the music so addictive to me. Judith brings a unique style to the band, singing beautiful melodies, with her vibrato providing an additional instrumentation, almost resembling flute playing. In fact, when I originally heard the flute playing on "Two Old Trees", I thought at first that it was Judith's voice. Joining them are Edo van der Kolk and newcomer Chris Henny, who replaces Daan Janzing, handling dual guitar duties to create atmospheric arpeggiated backgrounds and soaring guitar solos (which are thankfully more frequent than in the first album). Eric Hoogendoorn holds down the low-end on bass, making sure de Graaf's drumming doesn't get too rambunctious, while David Gutierrez Rojas and Maaike Peterse help to further fill out the musical tapestry on keyboards and violoncello, respectively. As Maaike joined them on many of their tours following their debut release, her presence here not only makes sense, but adds another avenue for musical depth.
While Hallway Of Dreams remains the favorite of mine between these two releases, I may be biased in that I've had several years to absorb that one. Skin Of The Earth is no slouch in the strength of its songs, and each carries you along on the waves of melodies until the end. Two differences I immediately notice between the two releases, however, is that, one, the drums are less commanding in the mix than the previous album, and two, instead of fading out, some songs cut off abruptly. I did mention that the drums are less distracting, which may be to allow the other instruments room to breathe, but at times I wish they were more front and center to drive the songs forward. As for the sudden endings, I don't know what the intention was with that. Especially on the last song, "The Edge Of Insanity", which begins to fade and then cuts off, I'm left wondering the point.
For those that have a chance, I'd definitely recommend checking out Kingfisher Sky. They're an extremely talented and catchy band, with arms reaching out in a variety of directions to capture pieces of the musical landscape. I find their amalgamation of styles to be interesting and refreshing, and they make the final result sound seamless. If you can only afford to get one of their albums right now (though both are available digitally for under $10), I'd recommend seeking out their debut, Hallway Of Dreams, before you venture to Skin Of The Earth. That being said, their sophomore release is worth your time and contains plenty of songs that will undoubtedly fill your head in the best of ways.
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