Dead End Sky
(Written by: Scott Schoenkopf) Being mired in a world of death metal growls and pigeon holed into a genre, Kyle Zemanek had an epiphany of what he wanted to do with his music; the possessive “HIS” being the key.
There is a difference between joining a band and forming a band. A well-known mainstay in the L.A. music scene, Zemanek, has been involved either directly or indirectly with some huge names in the local, national and global metal scene from his work as the initial vocalist in 5FDP, to his direct connection with former band mates that include Matt Snell (5FDP, My Acumen), Jeff Fabb (In This Moment, Filter, Black Label Society), Chris Howorth (In This Moment), Travis Johnson (Flatline, In This Moment) and being the frontman/vocalist for technical death metal giants, Devolved, with metal drummer extraordinaire, John Sankey. However, after leaving Devolved, Kyle asserted to himself what he really wanted to accomplish musically and the direction and that was to make it his own, including the type of music. He has done that with the formation of Dead End Sky
It is more the norm than the exception that metal artists, regardless of instrument or role, are not the “all metal, all the time” personas that we would like to think. Zemanek has that varied musical inclination and has an appreciation for bands that most consider more mainstream like Seether, Chevelle, Shinedown and the bands of the like that while still rocking as hard as any, are radio friendly and not “underground;” the current definition of modern hard rock.
While underground music or the thought of our musical tastes being underground may be appealing to kids who want to think they know something nobody else knows, but then lose interest as soon as the very band or music they proclaim to love gains popularity or becomes “sell-outs.” The reality is these musicians want to be sell-outs. It isn’t a negative connotation akin to the word “slut.” While the uptight and uninformed think a slut or a sell-out are despicable, those who truly understand that either carnation simply means they are well-seasoned and love what they do. This is their passion and the more fans they have, the more CD’s, downloads, merch they sell; then more opportunities are created to allow them to continue to create and distribute their music and not have to get a real job (sarcasm added.) Zemanek wants to be an artist that everybody hears, bobs their head to, is recognizable, heard on the radio, on the internet and he has taken the reigns to provide that groove modern rock sound with his personal touch to the masses.
With the recent release of Dead End Sky’s debut album “Tomorrow Can’t Wait”, Zemanek gathered a group of accomplished and well-rounded musicians that have the talent to serve this music rather than using the music to be self-serving. Rich Abronson (lead guitar), Masa Oishi (drums) and Dan Bartlett (bass) may have been brought into the band with all the songs already written by vocalist Zemanek, but each has their own ideas on how to better serve the music and contributed their creativity to the finished product, as well as the continued musical creations of Dead End Sky. Some bands or musicians in bands join bands just as a showcase for their individual talents, while other bands do it to showcase the music collectively. Dead End Sky is the latter, as was Zemanek’s vision.
Dead End Sky has made two songs available on various outlets including itunes and YouTube. “Always” and “When You Fall” have been met with glowing reviews both publicly and critically. When I first heard them I was struck by the crushing guitar rhythms that underscored the melodic balladry of Zenanek’s vocals. Since the debut album is a full-length 12 song endeavor (that Kyle whittled down from about 70 written songs), I highly anticipate hearing the rest of the album. Zemanek has been around the music industry long enough to know that if you want to knock it out of the park in your first at-bat, you need heavy hitters, that know how to handle the tools of their trade. As such, the album was recorded at NRG recording studios with engineer Josh Newell (Linkin Park), mixed by producer Brian Virtue who has worked with 30 Second to Mars, Chevelle, Puddle Of Mudd and more and mastered by Paul Logus who has Stone Sour, Anthrax and HellYeah on his resume among others. The enlisting of this skilled and experienced production team sends a notice that Zemanek is aiming to prove that the band’s name isn’t necessarily factual; that the sky is not the end of what they are shooting for.
Lyrically, Kyle has written songs that quite obviously come from a very personal place based on experiences, but has expressed them in such a way that they can connect on a different plane with fans. While any lyric or song may have a very specific meaning to Zemanek and take him to a succinct time of event in his life that was the basis for the song, listeners can place themselves and their own experiences in the middle of the song and connect with it; which is a mark of great songwriting.
Zemanek and the band continue to work on new songs, which would lead me to believe Dead End Sky are not going to hit it and quit it, that they will continue to evolve and succeed with no dead end in sight.