Review: Barnabas Sky – What Comes To Light

Review: Barnabas Sky – What Comes To Light

Pride & Joy Music (January 20th, 2023)

Reviewer: Jason Hopper

Barnabas Sky return with their second album ‘What Comes To Light’ just a little over a year since they released their debut album (review here). The project, founded by Lazarus Dream and Winterland songwriter/guitarist Markus Pfeffer, is his way of branching out from his bands and working out songs with slightly different rock genres and multiple singers to match the styles. In my previous review, I noted the strengths of the songs and how Markus found the perfect singers for the material. I am happy to report the trend continues on this album as well.

Some great singers return for this outing, including Danny Vaughn and Jesse Damon. Markus has now recruited the talents of Lee Small, Doogie White, Dan Reed, and Carsten “Lizard” Schulz to name just a few of the additions. After several listens through the album, you will find some phenomenal tracks, some really good ones, and just one clunker. Time to break it down starting with the favourites first.

I’m a big fan of the band Evidence One, a band that only had three albums but featured the vocal talents of Carsten “Lizard” Schulz. I’m interested in anything he sings on and he nails the song ‘A Dying Song’. I generally frown upon songs going on for longer than seven minutes (this track clocks in at 8:18) but I did not want it to end. My favourite song he’s done in years and is very reminiscent of a song you would find on Evidence One’s best album, ‘Tattooed Heart’.  Groove-oriented, melancholic yet melodic, this track makes great use of a 12-string guitar and double bass at parts. Mr. Schulz sounds as good as he’s ever been here, but it’s not just the singer. Markus’ solo here is the best this album has to offer. It’s played with a lot of emotion, and I always prefer that over technical proficiency.

The album is worth purchasing for this track alone, but fortunately there are other great songs as well. I’m not familiar with Deibys Artigas Venegasor or the band Preincarnation, but he sounds wonderful on my second favorite track ‘Isolation’. A traditional, straight-forward rocker with some interesting time changes, the song has a great melody line and riff that’s hard to screw up but will not work without all the other parts in place putting forth their best efforts.  Drummer Thomas Rieder gets to shine here with all the changes required and as stated, Deibys sounds fantastic, giving the song just enough power and not going over the top with his range. A small point of contention, the drums on this song sound like they are mixed louder than any other track on the album. A little jarring for sure.

Some other solid songs include the opening title track and the one that follows, ‘We Are Electric’. Sung by Danny Vaughn and Lee Small respectively, both are up-tempo and lyrically uplifting. With referrals to loving and enjoying life, you are guaranteed to feel energized by the time both songs are done. Doogie White does a great job on ‘Circus of Delight’. The song reminds me of old school Lillian Axe, especially the opening, which borrows the guitar chops from their song ‘Innocence’. Markus also gets to show off his keyboard skills on this track to great effect. Keyboards also play a key component in the Dirk Kennedy led ‘Seven Wonders’, creating an atmosphere that’s reflective of the lyrics. Markus does have a great way of matching lyrics, song vibes, and singers to get the desired outcome. You don’t get a Lemmy-type vocalist trying to pull off a ballad (thank God), at least on almost all the tracks.

As I mentioned earlier, there is one song on here that is a real clunker. With both the singer and the lyrics being problematic, ‘One or the Other’ is a track about political discourse, but its message beats you over the head with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Alan Tecchio’s vocal stylings sound forced, with lots of shouting rather than singing. He is trying way too hard to force the message into the listener’s eardrums. A laid-back or restrained delivery would have made the song better, but it would not help the lyrics or the overall construct of the songs, where words are either jammed in or stretched out of fit the spacing of the music.

With that one exception, everything else on here works effectively. The same conclusion I came to in my review of their debut album applies here as well. If you like any of these singers, you are guaranteed to like all the songs they sing here. Markus has constructed another album to showcase his talents and brought others along for the ride, matching them up with songs that help the material shine. If you loved his first album, this one is nearly as good. As with any album that has multiple singers, various songs will appeal to different people, but there’s something for everyone and I encourage anyone who liked the last album or the array of singers on display here to check this out.