Kybalion – Black Painted Skies Review

Score9/10
GenreProgressive Metal
CountryUSA
Runtime35:17
Release Date6 September 2019
Record LabelIndependent

If you want a bit of a change from the usual 16th-based, djenty, instrumental modern prog that has recently flooded the metal world, give this EP a spin. Black Painted Skies is the first release (they call it an EP but I would consider it a full-out album, but maybe that’s just me) from America’s brand new instrumental proggers, Kybalion. This speed demon of death is super heavy and its ever-changing form will have you happily kissing the comfortability of 4/4 goodbye. With a diverse mix of highs, lows, feels, and time signatures, it’s evident that this trio doesn’t fuck around, and you’ll find that out pretty quickly in the album’s deceivingly-named opener, ‘Whisper’.

Kybalion is made up of two guitarists and a drummer, but Black Painted Skies also makes use of backing keyboards, strings, and choirs to maintain a full-sounding atmosphere. There are plenty of crazy-technical breakdowns, but there’s a good balance of solid grooving and insane showwy-offiness. In between these sections of breakneck speed and glorious shredding are soft, pulled back keyboard sections, like the beginning of ‘Portraits of a Memory’, and you’ll even find some acoustic work, such as in the beginning of ‘Marred Earth’. Another thing I love about this album are the seamless transitions between songs; honestly, I was three songs in before I realized I’d actually gotten through a song, and that’s not a bad thing in this case. With an album like this, fluidity goes a long way, and it’s best listened to all in one go (although that’s hardly necessary to enjoy the album).

Back to the topic of ‘Marred Earth’, I just really need to express the appreciation I have for this song. Among an album of constant change, it doesn’t venture far from a single groove, and it offers a short break from the relentless energy of the album so you can catch your breath for the final cascading song.

While the songwriting is all excellent and the guitars lay down some sick riffs, the drums stand as the champion of this album. God. Fucking. Damn it. They’re incredible, to say the very least. Courtesy of Garrett Haag, they go from holding powerful grooves to unleashing hellfire through ridiculous double-kicks and blast beats. If I had to pick some favourite drumming moments, I’d be torn between the ferocity found in ‘Black Painted Skies’ and the softer, pattering beats in the pulled back section of ‘Portraits of a Memory’. While the first choice is obvious, it’s not often I hear a modern prog drummer that’s capable of playing something other than ultra-mega-fortissimo all the fucking time, so the finer things stick out to me.

Get ready for the ass-blasting of a lifetime, because this EP fucking rips. Seriously. Black Painted Skies is a monster of an album and these brand new proggers show a hell of a lot of promise.

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Stay Metal \m/

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Categories: Progressive Metal, Reviews

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