S.K.O.R. - A Maze

S.K.O.R. - A Maze

8 songs
37:37 minutes
***** **
(self-released)

Bandpage

S.K.O.R. have been around for a couple of years now, but somehow I never really found an opportunity to dig into their music. I am therefore unfamiliar with their debut EP The Cold Side Of The Sun from 2010. Soon after, the ÷sling based quintet replaced their vocalist, and then it took a little more time to redefine their new sound. The band name stands for Some Kind of Rock, and thatís probably exactly what it is, as a cursory search on the Internet reveals that some people think they are quite soft, other believe this is rather heavy music, and then there are those who feel reminded of modern rock music, while my ears interpreted their sound as slightly progressive. I guess this might be explained by the fact that S.K.O.R. are actually and deliberately sitting between (musical) chairs, and while that may make it harder to garner instant success, it also gives them an undeniable aura of authenticity.

The songs on A Maze are mostly rather long, rarely under four minutes and once even making it over nine minutes, but as there are also two shorter pieces - the intro Enter The Maze and the instrumental Speechless, both of whose goal is to create atmospheric density - we are still left with a not overly album. But I do prefer that to a longer one which might run the risk of containing some fillers.

The first regular track Tommy Lobo is the shortest of the regular songs, but still shows instantly what to expect from the guys from the high North. The music is very melodic, giving equal ratios to guitar, synthesizers and the rhythm section. I especially like the many different sounds used by the keyboarder, but that shouldnít reduce the other playersí merits. While the instrumentation in itself is rarely trying to show off, itís the arrangements that give the whole a progressive feeling. The new vocalist Danny is also very talented. His clean performance might be too streamlined for those accustomed to heavier fare, but I actually enjoy his powerful voice that never strays from the right tone.

Other tracks that deserve to be mentioned are The Unknown, the bandís choice for a video clip, which also is a perfect example of their modern rock sound, and of course the concluding nine and a half minute epic Hybris, whose title might be a misspelling for Hubris, but still displays the bandís progressive side at its best.

The album has been self-recorded and self-released, and comes with a decent enough sound. A more expensive setting might have eked out even more out of these promising musicians, but A Maze still leaves us with nearly forty minutes of excellent modern rock music with progressive elements. I feel reminded of a light version of Dream Theater, and I donít mean that in any pejorative way. S.K.O.R. have a good hand at writing catchy melodies and packing them in ambitious arrangements that prevent the listening experience to ever becoming tedious.

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