Skies Of December - Perception (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Skies Of December

Perception (2011)


Despite their overly dramatic name (really guys?) and self-released distribution model, Cleveland, Ohio's Skies of December are actually one of the better metalcore acts I've heard in some time. Perception still uses standard genre convention but also shows an actual respect for hardcore where a lot of bands seem to use the "core" portion of their name just to indicate that there are bad breakdowns in a song.

While I can dig a nice instrumental intro, the old random noise and indecipherable vocal sample thing is kind of played out at this point and having a minute-long standalone one doesn't really do Perception any favors. It might have actually been nice to have used some of that found sound aesthetics in the songwriting like adding a vocal sample into the middle of a song, but the only other track that really recaptures that is the instrumental "Scofield" and its sparse instrumentation remains my favorite on the EP. "Collapse," which directly follows the intro, retains a little guitar feedback but it sure could benefit from a little of that initial chaos to add to the sense of doom it tries to impart. Otherwise it is really solid opening with intertwining guitars and a stop/start rhythm. Vocally there is a shift between growled and cleanly sung parts, but Skies of December don't make the classic mistake of having too harsh a contrast. In fact the clean vocals remind me a lot of Tim McIlrath from Rise Against, which is is great because he has a great capacity for both hardcore and pop.

The one thing that really bothers me about the album is the use of keys, not that the keyboardist is a bad player but the addition of synthesizer and piano on "The Drifter" and "Finding The Window" sounds sort of cheesy, especially the former. I think if they had a good producer (not that this is badly produced) to arrange the key elements for them better they'd be a much stronger band for it.

Skies of December are a fairly new band so there is lots of time for them to grow as performers and songwriters, but Perception is a good direction for them to be headed. If you are looking for something that is a little heavy but also accessible or you are tired of the metalcore bands you are currently jamming out to give this album a try.