Finnforest SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / RPI Specialist Alone in the desert, one needs hope The Skys are one of the leading progressive rock bands of Lithuania, active for over 15 years but with a line-up recently revamped. The release of the new and majestic “Colours of the Desert” should go a long way in attracting new fans outside of their homeland. Featuring a wealth of high profile special guests and an ambitious compositional attitude, this is an impressive hour of prog rock. Other reviewers have mentioned everyone from Floyd to Gathering to Renaissance to Eloy in attempts to describe their sound. As the band seemed amused by these assessments in their interview with Torodd, I’ll add my own little nonsensical opinion and say the first comparison that popped into my melon was The Alan Parsons Project. So there. “Colours of the Desert” falls short of being a masterpiece in my opinion, but it is a fantastically enjoyable and eclectic album. Well rounded, enthusiastic, and engaging melodic prog rock is what we get here, with a consistent theme being pursued: “So far this is our most mature album. It is about the journey to desert. At certain stages of our lives we all go to the desert. And desert is all around us – our cities, our daily lives desert may be inside and outside us. Desert is full of temptations, mirages, thoughts and conversations with yourself. However, each time we return from the desert we are different.” -Jonas Ciurlionis, interview with PA The music tries hard to capture the desert theme, in spots sporting various sound effects along with a slight Middle Eastern flavor. Along with the wide variety of lush sounds and light/heavy atmospheres at times it recalls something like Orphaned Land without the metal element. The weapons at their disposal here are many. The mix of male and female vocals is very effective and of good quality. The main male singer has this slightly gravelly Gabriel thing going, and the female voice is quite ethereal, mixed together and with the backing harmonies they can be wonderful. The tracks are packed with soaring guitar/saxophone solos and keyboards of many textures. Love the airy backgrounds, stately piano lines, acoustic guitars, and even a bit of strings. The rhythm section is suitably aggressive when the music demands it, but able to transition smoothly during the more laid-back moments. The all important quality of the songs is mixed but mostly pretty tasty. I like the ones which leaned eclectic more than the ones with repetitive, catchy chorus parts. The tracks which had the most mystery and mood, where you didn’t know what would happen next, were the most exciting. As mentioned, the album reminds me of something like “I Robot” but with longer, sassier playing and a bit more oomph. I really like the fact that despite the obvious talent of the players, my attention is always on the beauty of the sound rather than clinical assessments of their technical prowess. In other words, the members are creating engaging sound rather than showing off. There are so many talented eclectic/crossover prog bands out there now that the challenge for The Skys will be to get people to pay attention. A beautiful work. Between 3-4 stars but I enjoyed this enough to round it up.