Rise to the Sky – Death Will Not Keep Us Apart

It was a warm day in June when I first came across the Chilean one-man doom project that is Rise to the Sky. In the Grave of a Forgotten Soul piqued my interest enough that when I learned that they’d been signed to GS Productions and had a full-length coming out later this year, I immediately set up a fiendish trap in the Promo Pit to ensure that I would be the only one to reach that record alive. At last, here it is: Death Will Not Keep Us Apart arrives with cold flourish and suitable melancholy, and I’ve waited long to start writing about it… so here I go.

Rise to the Sky plays doom metal that borrows from funeral, but remains firmly in the tonal territories inhabited by acts like Swallow the Sun. At times, they remind me of Shape of Despair in the artist’s ability to build and thrive in atmospheres, channeling genuine, moving feeling into each track. Haunting organs and electric leads bring each song to life in a way that sets Rise to the Sky apart from most doom I’ve heard lately. I do love a good organ, and Death Will Not Keep Us Apart delivers in spades. “High Up Above,” “From the Distance,” and “Dancing in the Dark (Death)” are great examples of the instrument’s powerful use throughout the album. These, combined especially with deep growls that strike me as a more tangible take on Damian Smith (Altars of Grief), bring to life the idea that Rise to the Sky is an atmospheric doom metal project whose primary aim is to envelop you with an air of despair and defiant hopefulness.

Lyrically, Death Will Not Keep Us Apart tells the story of a couple who narrowly survive a progressing apocalypse. Throughout the album, the pair searches for a place where they will be safe from the ongoing destruction. When they do find safety, they realize that only one of them will be able to reach it alive, and choose instead to remain together until the end, rather than face life and death alone. Rise to the Sky bring them to life over nine tracks and forty-six minutes through stellar songwriting and great use of every instrument available — keys and growls, yes, but also electric leads that invoke heartbreaking melodies in the style of Swallow the Sun. “Together in the Grave” might be my favorite track on the album for exactly this reason, and “High Up Above” is up there as well. I feel I don’t hear nearly enough lead-based doom metal. Death Will Not Keep Us Apart fixed that.

A significant strength of Death Will Not Keep Us Apart is that it sounds really, really good. I suspect producer Filippos Koliopanos (On Thorns I Lay, Ocean of Grief) is a good part of the reason for this, and his influence can be felt across the album. You see, I do have criticisms — the drumming sounds programmed, for one thing, and is less impactful than it otherwise could have been. More importantly, the vocals feel as though they are playing it safe, with the growls especially seeming to focus more on enunciation and heft than emotional conveyance. This is less true of the cleans, largely by virtue of them being cleans. At times, this creates an emotional disconnect between the stellar songwriting and the vocal delivery. And yet, the whole of the album still sounds so good that it’s easy to become lost in the mists anyway. The mix is very well balanced, and the performances are strong. Rise to the Sky brings a lot to Death Will Not Keep Us Apart, and it shows in nearly every aspect of the album.

I really struggled to assign a numerical rating to this one. Like I said, there are issues, but there are a lot of strengths, and every listen gives me a slightly different impression of the album. I’d notice something new and experience feelings with more or less intensity on any given listen. But I’ve enjoyed every spin and can happily recommend Death Will Not Keep Us Apart to fans of doom metal everywhere. It demonstrates huge potential and big emotion, which is what you absolutely want to hear on your doom metal.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: GS Productions
Websites: risetotheskyband.com | risetothesky.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/RisetotheSkyBand
Releases Worldwide: October 9th, 2020

« »