I came across the music of Brit band The Vaulted Skies by complete accident as I was doing the usual mindless scroll through social media. And what a happy accident it was! You could say it was *ahem* fate (pun intended) that led me to discover this band. They became one of the biggest influences on the musical direction I decided on for my radio show I host at my university’s student radio station (89.1 WIDR FM at Western Michigan University), and later on, I even got to interview lead singer James Scott on my show. The gratitude that I have for this band is immense, and so I only felt it was right to return the favor by writing this review of their EP of last year No Fate? (Alya Records). This band deserves all the recognition they can get, and the fact that they aren’t bigger than they are is astounding. It has been a long road leading up to this EP. The St. Albans, Hertfordshire-based band started years ago under the name Sunflies, later on changing it to Rorschach’s Journal, and finally The Vaulted Skies, after several line-up changes and new management. No Fate? is a worthy culmination of those years of persistence and dedication. It not only represents the incredible talent of the band, but also their genre-defying, powerful sound.
The album kicks off with the energetic “Does Anyone Else Feel (Strange)” , the synth-kick drums burrowing themselves right into your soul, as an echoing guitar line menacingly grows stronger. The five-minute romper slowly builds as the song goes-on, adding further and more complex layers of instrumentation and fusing together elements of post-punk and electronica. The pulsating up-tempo beat remains unwavering throughout. In fact, the entire rhythm section on this release, made up of session drummer Bom and bassist John Melia, is solid as a rock. It is clear that the two have an understanding of each other’s musical strengths and have a dynamic musical relationship that lends itself to the band’s high energy.
No time is left for contemplation, as one track goes immediately into the next, “It Starts With You”, which is a testament to the band’s genre-bending sound. The opening notes feature thumping drums and a funky Hammond-organ riff, which then descend into a hard-hitting guitar. Here, there is more of a rock edge than the previous dance-oriented track and the guitar skills of both Scott and co-lead guitarist Ben Singleton take the forefront.
The band has elements of goth throughout the entirety of No Fate? but no more is this gothic side evident than in the third track, the slower, wistful “The Falling Man”. Lead singer James Scott’s voice has nuances of post-punk, goth legend Robert Smith of The Cure, a band that Scott has stated frequently as being one of his greatest musical influences. Make no mistake that it’s an imitation,however. Scott brings his own originality and intensity into the mix with his distinct vocals, lamenting with the line “The last thing you see is a leap of faith to bring you to me.It’s the only way...”.That, in combination with the icy cold guitar that weaves itself between the melody sets up a hauntingly beautiful melancholia.
Just as you’ve settled yourself in, the next and final track, “The Night” kicks in with a deafening siren, followed by a driving drumbeat and an ominous atmospheric guitar that unsettles you to the core, and it’s absolute perfection. This track also showcases Scott’s piercing vocals at some of their highest potential and intensity, crying out in desperation.This track is easily my favorite off the EP, and sums up everything that is great and unique about this band. The listener is left wanting more as the album ends, with Scott maniacally laughing in confusion “ha ha ha ” (an homage to The Cure’s “Hot Hot Hot” perhaps?). And what better way way to wrap things up, really. The band is currently in the studio working on their next EP. And if No Fate? is just a small sampling of what this band can do, we are sure to be in for a real treat with their next release!
Favorite Tracks: “The Night”, “Does Anyone Else Feel (Strange)?”
You can keep up with the band on their website www.thevaultedskies.com, as well as on social media: