Night of the Red Sky is a breathtaking work of musical acrobatics. Hailing from Wroclaw, Poland; Joseph Magazine is a wholly unusual band-think Wagner (the original heavy metal) & John Williams on a flight through another dimension. Usually when I write a review I sit at my desk, earbuds firmly placed & I let the music flow. As the words come I will move through a song back & forth several times. With this album I was so caught up I kept forgetting to write. Therefore this review is going to focus more on how I felt & less on technical aspects.
A sense of foreboding inhabits Beginning. The percussion sets up that fight or flight feeling in my gut. I’m not sure if I’ll survive what comes next unscathed & unchanged.
The tension keeps building but then backs off slightly until this deep, almost demonic voice whispers a Vision. The bass is black & deep while the guitar soars & I think there may be some hope. That comes crashing down with the chaotic screaming after another prophetic voice. I’m not fond of this section & it sets my teeth on edge. However, it sets the stage beautifully for the rest of the album.
After the angst of Vision I’m enveloped by the warm guitar riff & solid bass intro to Self-Examination. Syncopated riffs evolve into a classic style driving rock. This is stunning prog guitar!
With barely a pause Liquid Dream begins. The first 1:30 is rock guitar at it’s finest. A hint of claxon in the background keeps me from getting too comfortable in this remarkable progression. A deep guttural noise echoes as the tone takes us deeper into the night. The glow of red in the dark is distant but inching closer. One of the most fantastic guitar progressions runs through this song.
Entering Holy Land the music becomes almost weightless; we are encouraged to
be a light to yourself in a world that is progressively becoming darker.
A bright, high guitar solo frames this voice of hope with the bass as a constant reminder of the encroaching darkness. The technical precision that flies through the myriad notes is mind-blowing. I just close my eyes & ride the notes into the recesses of my mind. Golden liquid notes stream out to meet the metal bass. It’s a glorious clash. Pick a cliche’d term for true rock greatness & it’ll fit. There’s a progression where the notes are first played hard & in your face then repeated softly & back into the driven metal in the space of a breath. Exquisite.
Fantasy comes to life in Wormwood. The voice of “Reason” (pay no attention to the man behind the curtain) informs us:
There’s no such thing as death; life is only a dream & we are only the imagination of ourselves.
Now I’m aware of the secret–all that I’ve been seeing is deep in the subconscious (and it’s damn scary apparently). We’re deep in heavy metal territory here & it’s a righteous journey thus far. Percussion so fast the sticks must be a blur, sliding guitar riffs & synthesizer coalesce into a ball of pure energy. The progression is building pace & tension which abruptly ends with the song.
Tower is a bold spike in this dark landscape. As the percussion beats like feet running down an endless flight of stairs the guitar circles it all; swooping & diving through the notes. A gong that reverberates into static empties space before I’m assaulted by more peerless metal magic. This is dangerous territory but I have to keep going….I’m tempted & warned at the same time. Time to toss caution aside & ascend to the spire…where I meet a moment of near calm. Keyboards lull me into a sense of relaxation & the guitar rocks me; keeping me from the edge of insanity.
As I cling to this relative peace Heremit takes over. This is solitary music. A lone figure trudging through unforgiving landscape in search of revenge. After 1:30 though it’s a mob scene–the guitar is on fire! Then at 3:10 I’m catapulted into a nearly empty space for a few seconds until I land & the guitar is Mach 4. This is beyond words–I’m swept away on prog rock only to be caught & given refuge in a quiet piano conclusion.
Reflection is an oasis of space rock keyboards & metal guitars. The danger is only on hold for a moment before the chaos breaks anew…. Flashback reminds me that evil is lurking–the screams of terrified people & the sounds of a world breaking apart are underscored by faintly heard guitar. Evil mocking laughter follows me into the title song.
Night of the Red Sky pounds at me. I’m battered by the guitar & punished by the percussion. Everything has been building to this final confrontation. It’s everything it should be–visceral, gut-wrenching metal mania.
I’ve made it to the other side & can see a Torn Piece of Sky. The vocals are a pleasant surprise.
I fell down & got up from my knees/I did not perish when I found myself in the heart of the bottom*
The piano is solid & comforting; the vocals reassuring that in spite of everything it is possible to survive the unknown of a Night of the Red Sky.
Joseph Magazine is made up of the formidable talents of Bartosz Socha – guitar, Marcin Walecki – keys, Bartosz Struszczyk – vocal, Marcin Szadyn – bass, Rafał Brodowski – drums.
*I’m guessing a little on these lyrics–some of them are a bit tough to understand. If there is an error it is mine.