Gildan's Guide to Good Music: Ride The Sky - New Protection

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.

As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives[1], most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!

What I aim to accomplish with these articles is to showcase quality albums from bands you've[2] never heard of, in the hopes that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews has found them useful[3].

Today I'll be shining my spotlight (of excellence) on a band that owes it's obscurity to the bit where it no longer exists, having officially broken up two years back, only a year after releasing their first album.

Which is frankly a bloody shame, because that album was really freaking good.


Ride The Sky

New Protection

Musical Genre: Hard Rock / Melodic Power Metal (with Symphonic/Progressive influences)
Running Time: 50 minutes
# of Tracks: 12
Particularly noteworthy songs: A Smile From Heavens Eye, Corroded Dreams.

After a long career with German Power Metal band Helloween, drummer Uli Kusch, along with guitarist Roland Grapow, left to form their own band Masterplan with vocalist Jørn Lande, which I would be obligated to adore even if it wasn't really good simply because I love anything that includes Jørn Lande (he is a Norwegian rock god!). Masterplan though was really really good, producing two albums with the original core lineup before musical differences while working on their third album prompted Jørn to part ways (though he's recently rejoined Masterplan's lineup).

It's in this space between Masterplan albums that the seeds of Ride The Sky were planted - Uli Kusch had been exchanging musical ideas with vocalist Bjorn Jansson (from Swedish Melodic Hard Rock band Tears of Anger) back in 2006, and after leaving Masterplan later that year due to dissatisfaction with the group's democratic decision making process, was asked by Bjorn and Benny Jannsen (guitarist in Tears of Anger) to do some guest work on the next Tears of Anger album. Kusch was impressed with the music they sent him, and ended up sending them some of his own compositions, and thus Ride The Sky was born as a vehicle to perform those songs.

Comprised of Kusch, Bjorn and Benny Jannson, and fleshed out by the addition of bassist Matias Garnas and keyboardist Kaspar Dahlqvist, the newly formed Ride The Sky went to work producing their debut album New Protection, which came out in 2007 - the same year the newly reworked lineup of Masterplan released their 3rd album, MkII. Both were excellent, and remarkably similar (Bjorn even sounds a bit like a combination of Jørn Lande and Mike DeMio, (the vocalist on MkII), which is awesome because those guys have wonderful voices), though I would rate New Protection as the better overall album.

Which brings me to how I would go about describing Ride The Sky's sound: if you're familiar with Masterplan, that's actually pretty easy - I can say "just like Masterplan circa the MkII album, but better", and my work is done. For those of you who didn't know what Masterplan was prior to me mentioning it, well that's a little harder - you might have noticed I couldn't just neatly classify this as Hard Rock or Melodic Power Metal without adding some caveats, and there's good reason.

Just like Kusch's previous band, Ride The Sky doesn't really fit neatly into the Power Metal genre - it's generally slower and less frenetic than the classic power metal template would suggest, while retaining enough elements of Power Metal to make classifying it as Hard Rock or Melodic Metal also a bit inaccurate, and that's before you take the Progressive and Symphonic influences into account.

What it all amounts to is some damn fine music that will appeal to fans of any/all of those sub-genres, from power metal aficionados looking for a band with a greater emphasis on melody (though all power metal is by definition melodic), to hard rock fans looking for something a bit heavier - if you like any variant of metal/hard rock at all[4], the odds are good you'll probably like Ride The Sky (and Masterplan for that matter) quite a bit.

Even though New Protection was fairly well received by metal fans, the band broke up a year later, citing frustration with lack of media attention and poor label support as their reasons. I can understand their reasoning, but I can't help but wish they'd stuck together for at least one more album, as their debut was pretty damn excellent; alas, such was not to be. Well they may be gone, but the album[5] they released isn't - and thanks to Gildan's Guide to Good Music, you know all about it now. Until next time, happy listening everyone, and thank you for reading my guide to music that does not suck.

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Penumbra - Seclusion
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest
Beyond Twilight - Section X
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
After Forever - After Forever
The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood
Hurt - Vol. 1
Myrath - Desert Call
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

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[1] In which case it is certainly good music, but you don't really need me to tell you about it, now do you?
[2] Certainly true of the average person on the street, but there's always the possibility that as a member of The Escapist you have indeed heard of some of the various bands I review, in which case you get a (metaphorical) high five.
[3] Whether that's actually the case with this particular review is anyone's guess, as its gone months without a comment. For all I know I could be performing the virtual equivalent of shouting at the void, but that's okay, as I write mainly to amuse myself. I would be nice to know somebody found it useful though.
[4] Unless of course you only listen to Death/Black metal and are incapable of enjoying anything with actual singing.
[5] If digital distribution is an method you utilize, it would be remiss of me not to mention that you can pick this up for $6 on that website named after a rainforest.


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