After multiple line-up changes, seven years since their last EP and a decade since their last abum, it must have looked as though as a second album was never going to happen for Skeleton Key. In fact the band, with a newly revamped line-up, took to an online crowdfunding website in order to finance the production on this album. With Slaves to Gravity, it seems as though it was worth all of the time and effort.
Lead singer Erik Sanko descried his vision on the band’s website saying: “I wanted it to sound like the film score to a freight train flying off the tracks, but a freight train that was filled with flowers.” If this seems like an oddly metaphorical way of describing something, then so will the majority of the lyrics on Gravity Is The Enemy.
What Skeleton Key creates is a mesmerising yet eerie sound, which will undoubtedly get stuck in your head. One thing that stands out to the goth/emo inside is how the entire album wouldn’t sound out of place if it was used as the soundtrack to a Tim Burton film. That eerie generally isn’t created by the subject matter of the songs alone. The raspy voice of Erik Sanko certainly adds to the mood Skeleton Key creates. As well as showing the power of his voice, at times it sounds like he’s whispering gothic lullabies. The unconventional sound is also emphasised by the odd percussion of Benjamin Clapp who plays alongside drummer Bob Vaccarelli. It sounds as though Benjamin is hitting pots, pans and any junk he can find; but instead of making the album sound unorganised, it adds superbly to the atmosphere being created.
The album opens with “Gravity Is The Enemy”, which brings in funk-esque bass lines and broken guitar riffs. The whole album has a consistent sound, powering from one raw song to the next. There’s a nice change of pace in the middle of the album, with “I’ll Walk You to the Door” & “The Mowing Devil”. The former takes the creepy sound to a new level, with Benjamin clattering away at his scraps and junk being the only accompaniment to Sanko’s distinctive voice, crowning about an unrequited love. The latter sounds even stranger than you would already expect from Skeleton Key. The banging of junk fills the background as whole band seems to break out in chain gang chants, until the noise subsides leaving only Sanko and a piano – frankly it’s creepy as hell.
A personal highlight from the album is the eleventh track: “Machine Screw”. The verses might sound like a lot of everything else on the album, but the chorus is infectious! It brings back the funky bass lines but delivers them with catchy riffs and a prominent drum beat while Sanko showcases more of his vocal range than anywhere else on the record.
If forced to criticise any point, maybe the final song is a little repetitive. It builds up to a hell of a crescendo of noise and static at the end, but you have to listen to the same verse for four or five minutes before you get there. But otherwise, Gravity Is The Enemy is a masterpiece.
4.5 out of 5 high fives!