Skyharbor – Sunshine Dust album review

Continent-spanning progressive metallers Skyharbor open up a new front with Sunshine Dust

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Sunshine Dust

1. Signal
2. Dim
3. Out Of Time
4. Synthetic Hands
5. Blind Side
6. Disengage/Evacuate
7. Ethos
8. Ugly Heart
9. The Reckoning
10. Dissent
11. Menace
12. Temptress
13. Sunshine Dust

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Skyharbor’s humble roots as guitarist Keshav Dhar’s DIY solo project now seem many light years away. Over two albums, the latter being 2014’s sumptuous and stunning Guiding Lights, the Indian/American progressive metallers have blossomed into something far more cinematic, sonically capable of touching far-reaching galaxies. 

In 2015, when then-vocalist Daniel Tompkins announced he was quitting Skyharbor having rejoined Tesseract the year before, it felt like the rug was being pulled from under the band’s feet just as they were hitting their stride. However, in new frontman Eric Emery, the band have unearthed a rare gem: a singer able to put his own spin on Dan’s emotive highs without ever sounding like a copycat. Third album Sunshine Dust arrives now after a four-year wait although some of the tracks here, like the sublime Out Of Time, were released as far back as 2015, while the seductive Synthetic Hands is a reworking of a 2016 track, previously released under the title Chemical Hands. The long delay seems to have worked in the band’s favour, though, allowing time for their new line-up, including new drummer Aditya Ashok, to settle and their new songwriting talents to coalesce. Consequently, Sunshine Dust boasts a collection of songs as instantaneous and memorable as they are engaging. From the moment Dim explodes in a blinding glare of twinkling lights, luxuriant colours and shimmering soundscapes, it’s clear this was always intended to be a sensory experience. As such, Ethos is the perfect balance between Eric’s starry melodies, poppy undertones and Keshav’s soaring melodic metal. Despite a general weightlessness that glides throughout each of the tracks, there are also nightmarish shades amongst the crimson skies of Dissent and Menace where harsh screams, crunching riffs and an earworm chorus converge with ease. Sunshine Dust continues Skyharbor’s run of dependably great albums.