DARK SKY – Once (2018)

DARK SKY - Once (2018) full

After several years without new material out, Germans DARK SKY are back with a new album titled “Once” to be released tomorrow. The record mix new studio material with the band’s best songs performed live, a proper release to kick the group into the scene again before their upcoming European tour.

Perhaps Dark Sky is not well known by melodic hard rock / AOR aficionados outside central Europe. But if Treat have chosen them for their next continental tour, they gotta be good.
Indeed, Dark Sky is a superb band. They started about twenty years ago, and the group’s first 2 albums are among the best coming out of Germany during the past decade if we talk about classy Melodic Hard Rock / AOR.

All are experienced musicians and have been together for many years, so they know each other very well and sound like a tight unit. Founder members singer Frank Breuninger and Claudio Nobile (keyboards) are in since zero hour, and guitarist Steffen Doll and Uwe Mayer (drums) joined since the second CD.
All over the years Dark Sky has perfected their sound, songwriting skills and overall polish, so expect all these in “Once”.

As said, Dark Sky play classic Melodic Hard Rock with AOR touches. They always remind me of Fair Warning, both due by Breuninger’s vocal color similar to Tommy Heart, and for their pristine sound.
Having a keyboardist as founder member and songwriter, expect parping synth and keyboard flourishes all over. But the band are not afraid to add some proggy touches, and at places, heavier guitar work.

The studio tracks are crystal clear melodious rockers, while the live cuts are so perfectly recorded that some sound like a studio takes. Yes, there’s more crunch in the riffs, the drums blast more, but I assure you that if you don’t like live recordings you better forget it and listen to “Once”.

There’s no filler at all in this album; 15 tracks of solid melodic hard rock / AOR in the German style.
Think the aforementioned Fair Warning, but also Bonfire, Zeno, Dominoe, Craaft, Treat, Frontline, etc. all quality stuff. I really love this kind of uber-polished material and crystal clear style.
I have to mention as well that I’m amazed at the production/mix quality Dark Sky are able to achieve. The supposed “major labels” from the AOR scene (hello Frontiers) should take a few notes from them.
HIGHLY Recommended

01. Into the Arena
02. Once
03. When the Rain Begins to Fall
04. Reasons
05. Final Day
06. Gladiators on Ice
07. Initium (Live)
08. Hands Up (Live)
09. Empty Faces (Live)
10. Chase Your Dreams (Live)
11. Food for a Million (Live)
12. Dancing with the Devil (Live)
13. Living & Dying (Live)
14. Cute Little Lies (Live)
15. Eternity (Live)

Frank Breuninger – vocals
Claudio Nobile – keyboards
Steffen Doll – guitars
Lutz Aicher – bass
Uwe Mayer – drums


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