Written by Dom Lawson
Blessed with a far-reaching musical philosophy, virtuoso chops and some of the most richly-layered and evocative music currently available to human ears, Anova Skyway are manifestly a band that open-minded music lovers can believe in. Masters of a unique and ever-evolving strain of elegant and finessed progressive metal, and with an unerringly soulful and emotionally resonant thematic outlook, the Texan sextet are poised to scale new and
greater heights in 2022, as they unveil the next chapter in their creative story.
Anova Skyway was originally conceived as a side-project for guitarist Mike Palacios, then a member of Houston, Texas-based thrash crew Bloodvoid. As that band entered a prolonged hiatus in 2009, Anova Skyway swiftly became Palacios’ main focus, as he explored more progressive and esoteric forms of heavy music, the nascent group’s line-up completed by drummer Mike Marksberry (also ex-Bloodvoid) and guitarist Andrew Alvarez. The arrival of vocalist Garret West in 2015 led to a significant refining of the Anova Skyway sound, as showcased on debut album A Great And Sudden Change that same year. But further evolution was coming: after bassist Cory Miles joined the band in 2017, the Texans released their second full-length, dazzling conceptual splurge A Light In The Darkness, heralding the blossoming of their creative relationship and revealing a new, improved and utterly irresistible take on the modern prog blueprint.
Impeccably designed but unfortunately timed, Anova Skyway’s next creative endeavour showcased yet another bold leap forward. Released in April 2020, Diet Of Worms revealed a further refining and re-defining of the band’s sound: darkly melodic, rhythmically effervescent and dense with emotion, it suggested the beginning of another brave chapter. “But what we thought was just going to be a few weeks at home to ‘flatten the curve’ turned into the terrible pandemic that we all know,” says drummer Mike Marksberry. “We finished up four of the song demos with producer Louis Abramson of Jolly, who also did Diet of Worms. They were intended for the EP, and as things seemed like they would possibly go back to normal, we entered into another production contract with our friend and producer
Dean Dichoso to record it all. It was at this time that Garret hit us with the news.” Line-up changes are an occupational hazard for even the most tight-knit ensembles, but Anova Skyway were better equipped than most to withstand the unexpected but amicable departure of vocalist Garret West.
“Juggling newfound fatherhood and doing Anova Skyway while living in another city, five hours away, was proving to be too much for him with time and finances,” Mike explains. “As much as we hated to hear it, we understood completely. We love Garret like a brother and his family’s well-being comes first. Meanwhile, the lockdowns were getting worse, so auditioning a new singer was not an easy thing to do. Ultimately we decided to move Mike Palacios to lead vocals.”With founding member and guitarist Palacios shifting into the vocal spotlight,another adjustment was needed to the Anova Skyway line-up. With a vacancy on guitar, the band turned to their old friend Sean Gary (ex-Oceans Of Slumber) and passed him some enticing demos to, hopefully, engage his interest.
“Our old band Bloodvoid used to run the same venues with his old band Lao Tzu so it just felt right to bring in a friend,” says Mike. “It doesn’t hurt that he’s an amazing guitar player. We also rounded out the line-up with an amazing keyboardist named Frank Alonzo. We always had keys, but not live, so this is a huge step us for us.”
Expanded to a six-piece and surfing on the immediate chemistry that fizzed from this new collaboration, Anova Skyway have undergone a perfectly executed upgrade, with new frontman Mike Palacios stepping confidently up to the plate and truly delivering.
“Mike has completely blown us away with where he’s taken the vocal performances and we can’t wait to bring this new version of Anova. We have a new vocalist, a new guitarist, and a new keyboardist. I wouldn’t say there is a huge departure from our previous style, but those new elements alone make for a brand new sound! We’re excited to bring it to the world.” Revitalised and newly focused, Anova Skyway have spent their many months of isolation working feverishly to create some new music. The result is the Reset EP: a dazzling showcase for the band’s refreshed personnel and the endless curiosity that drives their work forward. Comprising five brand new songs – Translucent, City Underground, Absent, Spark and Horizon - and a cover of Faith No More’s Ashes To Ashes, Reset remains rooted in Anova Skyway’s unique sonic world, but with ever greater depths and finesse on display throughout.
“There is no major story concept this time but there is a lyric from one of the songs that resonates with us,” notes Mike. “The lyric is: ‘A sight for the sorest of eyes, the loneliest of gloom. It’s high time our planets collided and carried us to our doom.’ With this in mind, and with the current global climate, and the changes made within the band, Reset seemed like the perfect title.”
The world is slowly waking up and live music is firmly on the agenda once again. When the Reset EP is finally unveiled, Anova Skyway have tentative plans to take their new music, and new line-up, to the masses. Above all, the last few years have proved the incalculable importance of music to our lives, and that essential spirit is proclaimed loud and clear in everything that Anova Skyway does. As ever, the future is theirs for the taking.
“We are already working on songs for the next release since these have actually been in the works for a while,” Mike concludes. “We plan to hopefully do some light touring following the release of Reset. Things are pretty close to being back to pre-pandemic ‘normal’ in Texas so we’re just working on making smart choices so that hopefully we can do our part to prevent a repeat. Live shows are back now and we missed them, so that’s great!”