There are few bands out there who are a horse of a different color. One of those bands, Skytown Riot, I was able to witness live just over a year ago and I have to say that their music breathes some much-needed change into the stale air created by many bands in the genre, these days. Their live show is a testament to who they are and what they bring to the table and their music has to be heard to be believed. While I use the term “alternative rock” as a blanket for the genre of music that they play, they really can’t be pigeon-holed. Their debut, full-length album, Alive in the Fire, kicks 2017 into high gear, already setting the bar high for bands to follow. The band consists of 3 incredible and multi-talented musicians. Van Gallik (Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist), Jason Fruchey (Bassist/Backing Vocals) and Sebastian Dunkel (Drums/Percussion) who, together, make up a tightly-knit, force to be reckoned with.
Balancing ever-so-slightly between facets of alternative, indie and progressive rock, Alive in the Fire is a 13-track release that you won’t soon forget. They’ve got a theatricality to them that really brings their music and live performance together. Vocally, I’ve seen a lot of individuals compare them to Muse in their earlier days. While I can certainly see where this comparison is drawn from, don’t let Gallik’s unique vocal style (which has ebbs, flows and intricacies of its own) get away from you. From the moment his voice hits your ears, you find yourself eerily drawn into the music, as if a siren were singing you into your watery grave. Musically, they remind me of bands like Matchbook Romance and Madina Lake, who are very theatrical and, sometimes playful, in their lyrics and overall delivery. “In Dissolution,” which you can view the lyric video for, exclusively, below is very groove-driven and sees the rhythm section as the stars of the show. Oftentimes, you’ll hear Gallik’s vocals fade into the distance, building your anticipation before the rest of the band comes back and knocks you out of your seat.
Clearly drawn into the more emotionally heavy side of their art, as well, I find myself turning more and more to tracks like “One Day” and “Sensational.” These are tracks that are largely piano-driven or acoustic, have a huge build up and tug at the listener’s heart strings. Gallik plays piano or keyboard, serenading the listener for a few minutes before it builds and explodes into a whole new level of beauty. Not quite ballad-like but, perhaps this is the best way an inexperienced listener may describe it? These tracks are beautifully written, orchestrated and make you feel closer to the band. The theatricality in their writing really comes into play on tracks like “Dynamo,” which feels playful in nature but has a really dark meaning behind it. As far as I can tell, this track tells the story of a woman who preys on men, makes them fall in love with her and then “has her fun” ending their lives.
The last track I’ll talk about is one of my favorites I was able to hear live, “Misbehave.” This track has a keyboard part that’ll get stuck in your head instantly, trust me on that one. This track is bouncy, has a lot of poppy overtones to it and is incredibly fun to listen to, let alone watch live. The couple of solos in this track, alone, are enough to keep you coming back but the way it was written, as a whole, really pulls you in.
Skytown Riot is a band that hasn’t failed to impress me, since being introduced to them last year and it definitely doesn’t seem that is going to change. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of Alive in the Fire (out independently 1/6) yet, please… do yourself a favor. This is going to go down as one of the best albums of 2017 and you will not be disappointed. All I have to say to the guys in Skytown is this…. bravo! Hope to see you live again, soon and we’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on them, as should you, in 2017 and beyond… big things are in store and this is just the beginning!
“In Dissolution” (Official Lyric Video) (watch in HD!)
Skytown Riot is:
Van Gallik – Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist
Jason Fruchey – Bass/Backing Vocals
Sebastian Dunkel – Drums/Percussion