Anova Skyway sounds like an alt-rock band that has listened to a lot of Mars Volta in their time. The vocals say, “Hi, we are the second coming of Faith No More.” The guitars: “Oh, Hello, we’re Circa Survive.” Genre amalgamations aside, A Great and Sudden Change is a speeding train that never stops chugging, but can’t always stay on the tracks.
Few can fault the band for pulling from “The Simpsons of melodic prog-rock:” the Mars Volta; they’ve literally done everything. Listeners tuned into the Texas prog scene will liken this five-piece to Fair to Midland but the Volta comps are hard to shake off. A little over a minute into the album sounds eerily similar to the part forty seconds into “Miranda That Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore: B.”).
Credit plenty of bands for inspiring the music on this album (listen to the opening riff of “Mobius” and tell me the part wasn’t lifted straight from the intro to “The Fall of Aphonia” by Children of Nova). The guitars are spastic, effects drenched and often weave together in a similar vein of Coheed and Cambria or Closure In Moscow or Tides of Man or Stolas or Dance Gavin Dance or The Sound of Animals Fighting or A Lot Like Birds or… well, you get the point. To be sure though, the rabid guitar shredding and gushing atmosphere is on point for the genre. Songs “Primitive,” “Wishful Thinking” (the album’s single), and “Panoramic View” underline the group’s obvious strength.
Elsewhere, the drummer plays tight, complex beats most of the time but his contribution to the rhythm section goes largely unnoticed. Vocally is where the band struggles most—a note to prospective melodic prog acts: You must be able to hit the high notes to play this music. Vocalist Garret West is far more M. Shadows or Serj Tankian than he is Cedric Bixler Zavala. Here is the area where the band shouldn’t be bashful about imitating.
“A Great and Sudden Change,” like a best-selling paperback, manages to entertain without doing anything wholly novel, but originality doesn’t have to be a chief concern moving forward so much as fixing the vocals. Howard Benson pulled off a Houdini act with Cove Rebber’s voice on Saosin’s self-titled album; maybe more production wizardry is all Anova Skyway needs to fit in with all the Volta spawn
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