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Rise To The Sky – Per Aspera Ad Astra Award winner

Rise To The Sky
Per Aspera Ad Astra
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 07 September 2021, 3:22 AM

Per Aspera Ad Astra,” is the album I have been waiting for from this one man band RISE TO THE SKY.   Mastermind Sergio formed this project not too long in 2019.  Flash forward to 2021, and RISE TO THE SKY have put out two EPS, a compilation, and four full lengths, the latest of which is “Per Aspera Ad Astra.”  His brand of atmospheric death/doom metal has never been more potent than it is on his latest venture. There are many reasons as to why this album stands out so much.

The production is the best on a RISE TO THE SKY album to date so the melodies and harmonies shine through like a full moon on a clear night.  The guitar and keyboards each have more of their own identity now, rather than melding into one huge sound.  This gives a lot of space for the songs to grow and each instrument to shine triumphantly.  It also shows just how adapt Sergio is at taking all these different melodies and putting them together.  I’ve heard very few melodic albums this year that does such a grandiose job of weaving together instrumental side of the songs like “Per Aspera Ad Astra” does.

Individual identity between the songs has also greatly increased.  The songs don’t blend together from track to track so much as they compliment each other with shared ideas so each song can feel like its own separate journey of a larger trip. I have reviewed every RISE TO THE SKY album since “Death Will Not Keep Us Apart,” and I can easily hear how much Sergio’s vocals continue to approve.  It is a common misconception that death growls cannot be emotional.  With that being said, I challenge you to hear his growls and tell me they don’t pull on the heart strings.  You can’t.  Sergio’s vocal style is deep and even menacing but its also both pain filled and cathartic….this guy has the ability to display such a wide range of emotions with a deep, brutal style and his music is all the better for it. As both listened to in one setting or on a piecemeal basis, this album comes together each time without fail.

I feel this album has other dimensions not presented in the previous releases as well.  For one, this release has a warm sound to it.  I can feel that listening to this can be like coming home again, or maybe a release from the experience of loss, or even something you put on when you need a boost of confidence.  After all we all have things to overcome, right? But it also has a finality to it the other albums didn’t have.  Once the last notes have finished, it feels like “Per Aspera Ad Astra,” is the end of an era…and one that will open up a new era for RISE TO THE SKY.

The album opens with “Life In Suspense,” a MASSIVE song that is the perfect opener.  The clean, acoustic intro adds a touch of class and segues into the death/doom.  Those guitar melodies wrap around the vocals so delicately yet with a commanding presence.  I have a sense these songs may have written themselves, with Sergio starting the process and just letting them take him where they needed to go.  The drums and bass have the expected rhythm presence, pushing the song along with their deep tones but in a smooth effort that never feels forced. The title track adds symphonic touches to the proceedings—it is very “world building,” and adds dimension and weight to the track.  Of course, it is also very touching and once again shows that metal can be as beautiful as anything. I really enjoy how long the intro to the song is, a buildup that is done correctly is always welcomed.  The riffs here are simple but so heavy, a sorrowful weight just dropping hard atop the keys while the vocals ride the darkened waves.  This slow crusher throws in a melodic section around the 5:28 mark.  It is an excellent departure as it adds another layer to the song while making the music that follows it seem all the more desperate.

The next longest track is “Deep Lament,” and it is among my favorites not only on the album but among the band’s discography.  By this point in the album, it is very clear that Sergio has full grasped not only the technique but also the importance of music like this not being afraid of being integrated with clean or acoustic notes.  This particular track continues  this but with moving keys as well—a two punch combination that is funeral in scope yet gentle in execution but heavy with emotional toll.  The density of the melodies rises and falls with the death growls, both elements having their fate weaved together as the song pushes ever forward.  The drums, especially the bass, provide a robust foundation, giving the song a mighty heft to it.

The final track, “Horse,” is a stunning, instrumental closer that is dedicated to a friend in honor of a personal loss he experienced.  The song is actually a cover of a traditional Russian song but what’s interesting is all vocals—so Sergio took this song and turned into a musical hymn that more aligns with the album’s style.  He did an absolutely amazing job and it came out beautifully. Every band has that one album that is their best, regardless of how good their others are.  It’s hard to tell considering how young the project is but I think “Per Aspera Ad Astra,” could very well be that album.  At the very least, it is RISE TO THE SKY’s best album so far. Some might question how high a band can go, or if they can even go higher than what could be their masterpiece.  I know Sergio isn’t finished with this music yet and I am confident that he will continue to focus on nothing but the highest of quality because he truly plays from the heart.

Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Life In Supsense
2. The Loss of Hope
3. Per Aspera Ad Astra
4. End My Night
5. Deep Lament
6. Bleeding Heart
7. Only Our Past Remains
8. Horse
Sergio G. - Everything
Record Label: GS Productions


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Edited 03 October 2022

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