REVIEW: SHATTERED SKIES – MUTED NEON

(This is an old review from October 2018. It was originally intended to be published by Rockodile but it never got published. I think it’s good enough to put it up so I decided to put it on here.)

It’s been a long, complex and arduous journey for British/Irish progressive metallers Shattered Skies. They burst onto the scene in the early 2010s with their phenomenal debut EP Reanimation and their debut LP The World We Used To Know, bringing a lot of promise with them and a slew of highly successful shows, tours and festival appearances. However, in the years since, they’ve weathered the course of lineup changes, delayed releases (although they did manage to release one EP, Auxilium Vol. 1, in the intervening years), moving countries, the mental health struggles that come with such things and the ever present exterior turmoils of the current state of the world. Now they’re out of the other side of those troubles and with that has come their second full-length release Muted Neon.

In some ways, Muted Neon is a return to the roots for the band. The intricate electronic arrangements which were almost completely absent from Auxilium Vol. 1 have returned, although this time rooted far more in the Blade Runner-esque sound design that seems to be all the rage at the moment, and the music leans towards a more progressive stance than it did on the aforementioned previous EP.

Lead single “You Will Know My Name” is classic Shattered Skies. Ian Rockett once again displays the funky yet aggressive slap style riffs that he’s become known for over the bands’ career, a huge chorus and fantastic synth and piano arrangements that perfectly fit in with everything else going around it. “Arisen” has some brilliantly intricate musicianship throughout that really shows off the skills of every single member of the band. It’s not like it’s already not very clear from listening to the album that this version of Shattered Skies is full of great musicians, but this song shows that especially.

The only problem with this album really is that at times it feels like it’s plodding its way through the motions. Whilst the music may be solid, brilliantly written and brilliantly executed, it can at times feel very samey. Anyone who is already familiar with the band won’t really find any new ground to be covered here. However, Shattered Skies is still a fairly under-noticed and underrated band, and Muted Neon’s consistency both in sound and in their high level of technical execution should be sure to get them more noticed.

Muted Neon is another solid release from a band who have already built a great reputation for themselves in the underground and, with the right amount of luck, will be the record that helps them break through into some new audiences. There’s no doubt that they are a great group of musicians with a real drive to create technical yet catchy progressive music.

7/10

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