Review Rating: Must Listen! [4.9 / 5]
Dark Skies is a story of slow victory told from a dark place. After the brutal reckoning of Deathgrip, Fit For A King returns with new, brutal, unrestrained music. Aggression and desperation saturate this collection, with hints of redemption and closure scattered throughout its runtime. Virtually every track pits the band against itself, driving Fit For A King's music to new heights.
The album opens with "Engraved," a track that picks up from Deathgrip with a question of legacy. From the opening screams to the closing bass notes, each moment of this song relentlessly shakes listeners. Heavy bass emphasis blends with thundering drums and rapid electric guitar to create a gripping melody. The song struggles with the notion of eternity, begging for something beyond the bounds of time. "Make me a memory!" vocalist Ryan Kirby screams, beginning and ending the track with this theme.
One word perfectly describes "Backbreaker" - intensity. Crashing drums and gritty, noisy guitar chords create a massive sound while quick bass notes drive the song at an unanticipated acceleration. Momentary pauses are demolished by merciless breakdowns in one of Fit For A King's heaviest tracks to date. Ryan describes the song's themes as revolving around anxiety and oppression - feeling the full-force of the back-breaking weight of the world and holding on nonetheless.
As if nothing could rival the heavy savagery of any previous single, "Tower of Pain" beats down upon listeners within a few seconds and shatters all expectations. Never before has Fit For A King delivered such a forceful, potent melodic mix in a song - shaming all previous fan favorites as light and restrained in comparison. In some beautiful, inexplicable way, the band delivers quickly crashing drums, unforgiving, brutal , fiercely-firing guitar chords, and vocals that swing between low roars and high screams with abandonment. The breakdown that quickly follows the bridge is so profoundly harsh and powerful that the last few words are mercilessly engraved into listeners minds. Fiercely roared vocals describe the pain of choosing the truth and the dismissal of comfort that follows. "Hell shouldn't pull me closer to heaven; death shouldn't pull me closer to faith," vocalist Ryan Kirby roars across the bridge. "I will climb the tower of pain!"
Dark Skies closes with "Oblivion," a story of failure and forgiveness. Rapidly-firing guitar and bass notes rage across the verses, smoothening out across the chorus in a deliberate reprieve from the chaos. Accelerating drums hold the foundation for the gritty guitar and hold their consistency throughout the track. Lyrics describe the story of a man struggling with the aftermath of his actions and failures, hoping and pleading for forgiveness and redemption. "Tell me I won't be forgotten, if just for a moment!" he cries out across the chorus. Unclean vocals scream hope into the bridge: "I look into the sky, I’m crying out Your name - I made my mistakes but You forgave me!"
Without question, Fit For A King has surpassed themselves with Dark Skies. Heavy, ferocious, and savage, every song thunders and captures listeners with incredible sounds and unrivaled abandonment. The album boldly tackles heavy themes with intense passion; building from motifs from Deathgrip while standing out as its own innovation. Dark Skies is a fierce contender for the best of this year's metalcore.