Sede Vacante - 'Skies Infernal' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 14, 2018    
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An impressive and hugely enjoyable debut album.

Sede Vacante in Latin means "seat being vacant" and in the context of Canon Law refers to the empty throne of the bishop. Quite how that fits in with the debut album of the Gothic Metal duo from Greece isn't clear, but what is clear is that have created quite a special album for their first release.

Based around Berkley College of Music graduate Michael Tiko (vocals, guitars and keyboards) and Constantine Alex (vocals), a student of the National Academy of Music in Bulgaria, SV have crafted an album that touches on Gothic influences without overdoing the histrionic Operatic vocals, choirs and orchestration that is favoured by some. 'Skies Infernal' is a case of less is more, focussing more on melodies, song structures and the interaction between the male and female lead singers which allows the material to breathe rather than being over-embellished.

Sure, the choirs do pop up here and there. The opening title track is a brief, haunting choral introduction which is swift but beautiful and dramatic, leading directly in to 'Hate Eternal' featuring the gorgeous vocals of Alex that, at times, are reminiscent of Petronella Nettermaim (Paatos). Again, the emphasis is on melody rather than Operatic acrobatics and the music clearly benefits from this, especially when the intensely melodic, harmony-driven chorus kicks in; this is quality stuff.

'Against My Tear' sees Tiko on vocals as the album alternates lead vocals on successive songs. Tiko also shies away from the Gothic female clean/male growl approach often utilised in recent times, preferring to sing in an understated style that enhances the music and fits effectively alongside the more soaring vocals of Alex.

Tiko certainly learned a chop or tow while studying at Berkley. His solo during 'Shepherd And Lamb' starts in a wonderful Eastern-tinged mood before literally exploding into a searing climax. It's moments like this that make you remember just how effective a cracking guitar solo can be.

SV strike the right balance between light and shade. There's enough punch in the riff department to keep those of a heavier inclination satisfied, while keeping strong melodies and imposing choruses to give the band a potentially wider appeal without ever straying into an overtly commercial dead end.

'Skies Infernal' is an impressive and hugely enjoyable debut album and the early signs are very promising for Sede Vacante to become a name to follow over the coming years.

Mick Burgess

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