Review by Brady Deeprose
I rarely get as excited about an album pre-release as I did with The Imperial Skies. After seeing Chapters live twice and hearing some stuff on YouTube, I was expecting good, great even. I was not expecting this.
For a debut record, The Imperial Skies delivers it all: riffs, hooks, coherency, poise and most of all, a maturity usually reserved for albums years down the line. Right from the first few seconds, ‘I Will Reign Forever’ just commands the ear, virtuosic percussive and guitar work into an interesting chord progression, then giving way to a disgustingly heavy verse; the first we hear of Joe Nally’s passionate bellow. The track is a perfect start, culminating in an intense emotive finale with the lines, ‘I shall never return, I will push forward, I will reign forever, forever above us all’ arousing a sense of the ‘epic’ after a mere 5 and a half minutes of music.
‘The Siren’ and ‘March Of The Puritan’ and both push the heavy, melodic buttons and are in keeping with this idea of the colossal. It’s astounding that the band can have covered so much in just three tracks and as the album flows through to it’s instrumental reprieve, ‘Arising’, a string quartet is brought in, a new texture to the already bountiful reserve. I usually try to avoid a ‘track-by-track’ commentary but there’s so much on offer from Chapters, it’s so hard to give a true representation and flavour of the record.
A single major chord, played on an organ, serves as the almost tranquil set up to one of the most acoustically stunning tracks I’ve heard for a good long while, ‘The Ecleptic Circle’: Sian Sanderson’s vocal contribution was the perfect touch. Moving straight into ‘The Imperial Skies’, the pace of the record is brought back up and the guitar work just speaks for itself: another great track.
My favourite piece by Chapters is the self-titled effort that closes The Imperial Skies. Nearing 8 minutes long, the depth of compositional skill employed to keep your interest for every second is astounding, as the track flows through light and shade effortlessly and even has a vocal contribution from Josh Middleton of Sylosis fame. After a frankly ridiculous solo, the track comes to rest on a quite unexpected major chord, the perfect end to the record. Obviously, that was far too simple for Chapters, dropping in one of the heaviest and most surprising build up’s/breakdowns I’ve ever heard.
If ever I’ve bought a record that demanded to be replayed over and over, it’s this one. The Imperial Skies symbolises everything that’s great about the British modern metal scene and is more than likely the best album you will pick up this year. Why only 9.8 out of 10? I could listen to this for hours, so clocking in at just 33 minutes is just plain cruel. Do yourself a favour and go pick this record up right now.
9.8 out of 10
- I Will Reign Forever
- The Siren
- March Of The Puritan
- The Ecliptic Circle
- The Imperial Skies