Lynx – Watcher of Skies Review

Boy have we gotten lucky with some sweet traditional metal fare this month. Recent releases from both Black Soul Horde and Tower1 are sure to worm their way onto a few year-end lists—at least for the olde at heart. Upstart band Lynx aim to join this exalted group with their debut, Watcher of Skies. Set more against the backdrop of 70’s classic hard rock (think early Blue Öyster Cult), this new German group strip back the veneer of modern sound and aim straight for the proto-heart. But as primitive as this kind of music can sound, it’s actually tough to pull it off. A band has to write compelling material and nail the performance. Is this band the missing Lynx between today and 1971?2

Watcher of Skies is another one of those albums that immediately hits one of my pet peeves: it opens with an intro track. Ugh. However, this particular intro holds great promise, with a simple and hypnotic base accented by layers of guitars and keys. It seems to portend an epic album, but instead when “Grey Man” takes over we get some rudimentary melodies that are drowned out by cymbals. When the band finally settles into a rhythm they remind one of Night, although vocally Lynx are a lot rougher around the edges. And in the middle. And above and below. Guitarist Marvin Keifer is, to be polite, not a singer. He has a hard time staying in tune, gets loud and quiet randomly (is the fact that he has no mic technique his fault, or the producer’s?), and “goes for it” way too often.

But let’s talk about some positives here. The opening of nearly every song is excellent. “Savage Mountain” has a charming bass intro and a galloping yet endearingly awkward rhythm. “Eternity’s Hall” has that early Blue Öyster Cult vibe I mentioned a while ago, and “Heartbreak City” has one of the coolest intros of the year, with a sinuous guitar line and churning toms leading the way. These are all the seeds of good songs, and the band plays their material tight, with plenty of gallops, harmony guitars, and the occasional engrossing guitar solo. The rhythm section holds its own as well, especially on bass, where Phil Helm avoids any sort of showmanship (except for “Savage Mountain”) and just holds things down. Franz Fesel shows plenty of talent behind the kit, when he isn’t bashing the hell out of his cymbals.

Fesel makes Alex Van Halen and the dude from Mastodon seem like cymbal minimalists, and that’s not good. It’s like free tinnitus. The incessant cymbal play combined with Keifer’s often out-of-tune vocals and the awkward, lurching arrangements make each song a weary task. If these songs were all thirty seconds long we’d have ourselves a Record o’ the Month, but sadly Lynx have issues with the four and a half minutes that come after the first thirty seconds. The title track ends Watcher of Skies and could be considered “epic” in a somewhat stumbling fashion. Again though, the acoustic intro, stumbling rhythm, and over-enthusiastic vocals render it harmless. And fittingly, the album ends with just the drums and those incessant cymbals.

Unlike last week’s release from THE Apostle of Solitude, Watcher of Skies was more disappointing the more I listened. Flaws grew like warts, to the point that it was best to shut down proceedings and write. There’s definitely the seed of something strong here in Lynx. For a debut, it’s not a huge misstep by any means; rather, Watcher of Skies shows us a band that can write some decent material but needs to go back to the shed and really focus on the entire song rather than just the intro. I expect a much stronger second album in a year or two.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: No Remorse Records
Releases Worldwide: November 26th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Review inbound. – Steel
  2. Love it. – Holdeneye
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