Skin Of The Earth is the second album recorded by Dutch band Kingfisher Sky from The Hague. Itís the follow-up of Hallway Of Dreams released in October 2007. A year later the album also got an international release in Japan, Italy, Germany, United States and Great Britain. Before reviewing their new album, letís have a look at the bandís history. Kingfisher Sky (see interview) was founded in 2001 when drummer Ivar de Graaf decided to leave the successful gothic rock band Within Temptation. At the time this was a rather hard decision, because the band were on the edge of international acclaim with the album Mother Earth that had been picked-up by a larger audience. However, De Graaf felt that he had to move on and together with classically trained vocalist Judith Rijnveld they started writing new material without a specific genre or musical style in mind.
Many influences were brought into the music they wrote. According to their website the music made by acts as Heart, Clannad, Tori Amos, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree were all sources of inspiration for them. Therefore, it was difficult to label their music, so they invented a new term for their music and named it progressive myth rock. Itís based on contrasts: on the one hand dreamy and atmospheric; on the other hand heavy and rough. An impressive demo containing eleven tracks recorded by the two musicians, resulted in signing a recording contract and the formation of a live band. To record their debut album they found a perfect line-up consisting of bassist Eric Hoogendoorn (ex- Orpahanage), guitarists Daan Janzing and Edo van der Kolk and keyboardist George van Olffen with the help of producers Jochem Jacobs (Textures) and Bouke Visser. Looking back, you might say that Hallway Of Dreams is a very mature album. Indeed, it had many musical influences, but the connection with Within Temptation was still present.
In January 2008, Maaike Peterse joined Kingfisher Sky on violoncello which resulted in an even more progressive rock sound as we can hear on Skin Of The Earth released in 2010. Maaike was not the only new musician on the bandís second disc. Guitarist Daan Janzing left because he couldnít combine the job with his participation in My Favourite Scar. He was replaced by Chris Henny. Keyboard player George van Olffen left as well and was replaced by David Gutierrez Rojas. All these changes and all the days spent in the recording studios resulted in a mature album consisting of many musical styles as gothic, folk, metal and progressive rock. You can also hear that Ivar once was a member of Within Temptation. The sound of Mother Earth is also audible on Skin Of The Earth, especially the Irish folk influences in combination with the metal riffs. Another reason why Within Temptation is often mentioned in reviews is Judith Rijnveld, a fantastic female singer. However, Kingfisher Sky has not the radio-friendly sound that Within Temptation has nowadays. Therefore, lovers of progressive rock are better off with this album released by Kingfisher Sky.
As I already stated, the cello parts are responsible for the progressive rock sound on this album: it gives the music an orchestral sound. The more mellow tracks have the same folk influences of bands from the late sixties, early seventies. The albums made by British band Renaissance with Jane Relf as a lead singer came to my mind from time to time. Kingfisher Sky has the talents to create the same peaceful mellow folk sounds on a number of tracks. Especially the way Judith Rijnberg sings these tunes resemble Jane Relf. I have to say a few words about the art work of the album. It just looks fabulous; it was created by Judithís mother Joke Rijnveld-Stortenbeek. In many ways it represents the albumís themes: the elements earth and fire. Thematically, this album can be seen more or less as a continuation of their first album which dealt with the other two elements: water and air. For the fans of Within Temptation, I have to mention that guitar player Ruud Jolie played the mandolin on one track.
Skin Of The Earth is a fine album with many strong tracks just as on their first release. The musical style on both albums is about the same, but on the second album you can certainly hear that this Dutch band has grown into a very professional sounding band of international calibre! People who like progressive rock with some metal and folk influences may be interested in the music recorded by Kingfisher Sky. They donít sound as commercial as Delain or Within Temptation and theyíre not as loud as Epica or Nightwish, but nevertheless I recommend Kingfisher Sky to the fans of these bands!
†*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Interview Ivar de Graaf
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