Initially a solo project for guitarist Keshav Dhar, Skyharbor’s debut Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos was buoyed up by the presence of guests including TesseracT vocalist Dan Tompkins.
On this crowd-funded second record, they’ve got a fixed line-up, and those collaborators are now a real band, with Tompkins front and centre. You might think that with a band-written album, some of Dhar’s magic and single-mindedness might be lost, but from the rushing, syncopated riffs of opener Allure, it’s clear that, if anything, Guiding Lights is a more focused record. There are still expansive textures and luxuriant runtimes, as on the stunning title track, the anthemic Halogen and intense closer The Constant. Tompkins’ vocals are brilliant throughout, the riffs are tight and the rhythms satisfying to headbang to. Djent may be currently hitting some serious growing pains, but with Guiding Lights, the band mostly sidestep the most egregious genre clichés: there’s little chugging for the sake of it, and no superfluous dives into obscure genre fusion. Prog metal thrives at the point between the familiar and the unexpected. Skyharbor hit that sweet spot just right.