ALBUM REVIEW: RISE TO THE SKY - TWO YEARS OF GRIEF
PROLIFIC ONE-MAN DOOM INSTRUMENTALIST PONDERS LOSS AND RECLAMATION
The sheer emotional gravity of Rise to the Sky’s grief-stricken funeral doom isn’t as challenging as trying to keep up their rapid-fire releases. The brainchild of this act is multi-instrumentalist one-man-in-black Sergio Catalàn from Chile, a fellow whose output is prolific as it is intense. But anyway, Catalàn’s home nation is perhaps better known for vibrant street culture, biblical scenery and a pretty decent national football team. Not so readily is it associated with this form of sweeping, maudlin death / doom metal but here we are.
Catalàn’s slew of releases over recent years have, touchingly, been inspired the passing of his late father and the tenor of his records have been consequently impassioned. This has been a circular journey with this release intended as reaching spiritual reclamation after the birth of the musician’s son. As for the music, an obvious stylistic linkage is perhaps the incurably bereaved gothic scape of My Dying Bride but without the traumatised Ye Olde English vibe. Rise to the Sky instead have harmonies that are – and this should heavily caveated – sweeter and more serene with bonnie, sorrowful and, dare one say it, almost warming melodies.
If you’ve heard any of Rise to the Sky’s previous releases, you will know what to expect here with drawn out meditative heartache doom inflected with ambient reflection. Tracks are panegyrics to grief and loss and are consistently at the seven minute mark, overspilling with melodious melancholia. It is still doomy with the likes of Burdened by Grief and its baleful BM venom and snare punishment. Also, Catalàn’s inscrutable deathly roar is almost like an ambient effect rather than a central role in the mix. His indecipherable delivery doesn’t ever really vary and sounds a like a freezing draught of despair in the background while soaring tear-jerking guitar hook lines take off at the forefront.
The standout quality of Rise to the Sky is Catalàn’s panache when it comes to penning wistful melodies. His bitter-sweet guitar lines can be quite delectable but they are also deceptively clever with layering and interplays that prevent this from becoming turgid. Even simple tricks like delays of repeating harmonies make this a deftly woven affair while some of the accoutrements such as the emotive strings on I Knew Joy Would Die or acoustic thrumming on Becoming Flesh and Bone give this enough contrast. And what would a record of this specific emotional immersion be without a romantic spoken word passage on the cinematic yet restrained title track.
Two Years of Grief evolves as the record progresses, gradually and very generally moving away from embittered, clenched-teeth fury to irrecoverable melancholia before finally making way to lighter shades of resolution and release. There is a development from paeans of weeping into a more mature emotional assessment and cautious hope. The final song From My Blood I Bring You Home feels more than an album closer but also a personal new chapter and existential crossroads for Catalàn. The impressive lighter shades of this record might also offer a glimpse into possible future musical directions.
Check out Rise to the Sky on bandcamp: https://risetothesky.bandcamp.com/