Kingfisher Sky is yet another female fronted symphonic metal band from the Netherlands with a calm and somewhat progressive approach. The band was founded by Ivar de Graaf, who had been the drummer of Within Temptation. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that his new band’s first output is quite close to the calmer, almost folk rocky earlier releases of his former band. And it’s also no surprise that the band lacks any kind of unique style, sounding like an odd mixture of Within Temptation, Loreena McKennitt, Evanescence, and Autumn.
I have no problem with calmer symphonic metal bands, but Kingfisher Sky is definitely going too far on their debut release. The album sounds like one big lullaby. It’s mostly boring and, sometimes even too pop oriented for me. “Balance Of Power” has neither balance nor power, and I certainly don’t want to see the world “Through My Eyes”, because expressed this way, it all looks pretty dull, grey, and melancholic.
Among the better songs, we have the airy grower “Her White Dress”, even though it reminds me of an Evanescence ballad rather than a symphonic metal song. The three best songs are the playful folk ballad “Big Fish”, with its joyful flute sounds, the dreamy and warm single “November”, and the title track “Hallway Of Dreams”, which actually includes a few engaging guitar riffs that are otherwise almost completely absent on this record.
Despite a couple of good efforts, Kingfisher Sky delivers an album that could be played to a baby, and that doesn’t offer anything outstanding or unique. Fans of the aforementioned bands could give this release a try, but any other symphonic metal fan should skip the debut and try out the much better second effort Skin Of The Earth instead.
After the drudging debut, Dutch symphonic metal band Kingfisher Sky took three years to work on its own approach and came back with the much improved Skin Of The Earth.
The first track, “Multitude”, is already better than anything on the predecessor. It has a multitude of new approaches and ideas indeed. The track opens with mysterious sounds that create a magical atmosphere. The vocals have better melodies and are more powerful than before, as well as more variable, as this track also includes some haunting whispers. “Multitude” sounds well balanced and mixed, laid back, and features more metal-oriented moments and harder riffs than before. “Rise From The Flames” hits the same vein: it’s a solid metal song that integrates mandolin and violoncello sounds in a very good way. Symphonic and folk metal fans should adore this song alike. Another well balanced track is the album closer, “The Edge Of Insanity”, which unites acoustic and electric passages in an amazing fashion, and features strong and charismatic female vocals.
The softer tracks on the record also work much better than before. The lullaby “The Attic” has a haunting atmosphere that could easily fit into the soundtrack of a mystery movie. It’s a great song for a rainy autumn morning while you read some horror, mystery, or science-fiction novels. In general, this kind of music invites you to relax and is more appealing to intellectual listeners that are open to giving music some time to grow on them. It’s definitely nothing you can listen to on the go or fully discover on the first try, but this is a positive trademark of the album for me.
If you are looking for something more symphonic, try out the diversified “Mushroom Wall”, that proves to us that the band hasn’t been completely mislabeled. Progressive metal fans should dedicate some attention to the beautifully entitled “Liquid Clocks”. It includes a few well-integrated electronic sounds, but also Persian folk elements. As I fall for these folky parts, this is probably my personal favorite on the album.
In the end, Kingfisher Sky’s second output is much better than the unbalanced and dull debut. This album really came as a positive surprise to me, and can be seen as a clear improvement. The middle section of this record has a few redundant elements and a couple of weaker tracks, but the first three and last four make you forget about this album’s weaker moments. Those who like bands such as Xandria, Within Temptation, Gwyllion, Elis, or Delain can’t go wrong with this release. Progressive symphonic metal fans should definitely try this record out.