[12 February 2007]
Beneath the Sky, hailing from Cincinnati, play a brand of music called “metalcore”. Essentially it means they play fast, they play loud, and they play furiously. The one thing you can’t say about Beneath the Sky, or their new album What Demons Do To Saints, is that they do not play with passion, because they certainly do. They play with the anger and fury that is fitting for the metalcore genre. Unfortunately, that’s all there is. It seems that there is a lot of noise, but not much musical depth beneath it.
The album begins with “Goodfellas”, and the listener is introduced to the ethos of Beneath the Sky. Lead singer Joey Nelson’s vocals are piercing, at times a wailing scream, at other times, a deep satanic roar. His first words are, “Every day is a nightmare” and the dark, gothic feel of the album is shown in its full glory. The guitars shred and the drumming is methodical, and everything feels completely and utterly furious. It is a feeling that will be repeated over and over again through the course of the album. Songs like “7861” and “The Reason” do not deviate much from crunching guitars, thundering drums, and passionate (bordering on frightening) vocals. The lyrics are standard, hardcore fare: dramatic and overwrought. On “The Reason”, Nelson screams: “My love will rise / This was a story that was foretold / By a man, a prophecy”. While the lyrics aren’t much to write home about, the all-out fervor that Nelson sings them is to be commended.
There are moments where the band steps a bit out of the metalcore genre. On the bluntly titled, “Being in a Coma is Hell Carried On”, the last two minutes feel completely at odds with the rest of the song. Nelson’s powerful screaming still remains, but muted in the background, as the combination of soft vocals, strings, and airy guitars give the song an atmospheric feeling. While this attempt to add delicacy to the music is a welcome change, the execution seems off, and the listener ends up feeling that the band is trying too hard.
Beneath the Sky, in the end, is not a bad band. They play with vigor, and it is apparent they care deeply about the music they make. But what ultimately leaves the listener unsatisfied is the sense that the band can only do fury. When they attempt to give their music depth, it doesn’t come off right. Beneath the Sky is a band with great potential, and if they could get those layers right one day, they’d really be onto something.