SUNLESS SKY - Doppelgänger

Sunless Sky - Doppelgänger

10 songs
45:25 minutes
***** ****
Pure Steel


There is this genre called US metal, precisely because it’s a genre that somehow only American bands are able to play. Its heyday was in the mid to late Eighties, with bands like Omen, Agent Steel, Riot, etc. Lately there have been quite a few bands trying their hand at this American brand of power metal, but most fall short of the dynamic tension of the pioneering bands. And then there is Sunless Sky, an otherwise not too well known band from Cleveland, Ohio. And yet some of their band members have quite the history to look back on. Guitarist Curran Murphy played already live guitar for Annihilator and Nevermore, and should be known in insider circles for his band Shatter Messiah that plays high quality power thrash metal, and then there is über-vocalist Juan Ricardo whose career began in the mid-Eighties with the underground metal band Attaxe and who has since then performed in many other bands, among others recently Wretch and Sunless Sky. Despite him being already in his mid-Fifties, you will have to look for a long time to find anyone sounding as authentic as him.

After their debut Firebreather from 2014, Sunless Sky are now back with Doppelgänger, a forty-five-minute tour de force that should increase the heartbeat of every thoroughbred US metal fan. The band immediately put their two best songs at the beginning of the album. Both Starfall and the title track are high-speed tracks that combine the best of power, speed, thrash and progressive metal into something quite feral. It’s definitely not original, but it comes with the same genius as the best material from bands like Crimson Glory, Agent Steel and the likes. The guitar riffs come with the fierce relentlessness of a buzzsaw, mastering the rhythm work as well as the high speed solos. Above all are the soaring and searing vocals by Juan Ricardo who doesn’t stand back behind vocal gods like John Arch, John Cyriis and Midnight.

Not all songs come at such an elevated pace, but Sunless Sky are smart enough to alternative between more epic mid-tempo material and their trademark speed metal attacks. With Murphy being in his Forties, and Ricardo already in his Fifties, it’s a given that both have lived through US metal’s glory days, and they have all it takes to reignite this most special kind of music. Unlike the European brand of power metal, US metal never played with cheesy neo-classical elements, but always kept it metal through and through. Fans of the aforementioned bands will therefore undoubtedly be excited at what the excellent Doppelgänger has to offer. This is the real deal, and not some third rate knock-off.

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