I do so hate finding artists and albums so close to the end of the year. It’s especially frustrating when the material releases after many other albums have undergone their listening cycles for our album of the year lists. Pillars in the Sky seems to be one such artist who, from this point onward, be one who will consistently elude my lists because of their desire to release their work in December, if their track record has anything to say about it.

But we march on! Pillars in the Sky is a one-man project by a man who simply goes by the name “Bowe.” “I’m Bowe. This is my music,” he succinctly states on his music page. And it surely is, Bowe. This is certainly your music.

I stumbled upon Pillars in the Sky by accident, during my regular year-end perusal for records I missed throughout the year. We’d already locked down our lists here on Heavy Blog and this was more for my own sake than anyone else’s. If I came across albums prepping for a 2016 release, all the better, but 2015 had such a ridiculous number of releases that trying to listen to even a fraction of them would be a couple of weeks worth of work. More if you decide to give each release the time and patience it deserves.

Pillars in the Sky stuck out to me, however. From its obviously-Final Fantasy-inspired logo to the charming use of popular video game quotes as song titles, Pillars in the Sky is a project that will instantly intrigue your deepest tiers of nerdery. Even more engaging, however, is the music itself that is unfalteringly inspired by the games it subtly pays tribute to, managing to craft an air of serious originality that would readily subdue any mockery.

From the very first moments of “It’s dangerous to go alone,” the alluring chiptune noises pulling you in right away, Pillars in the Sky’s latest release, What Became Of The Kingdom, makes no mystery of its intention, but deviates in a serious manner when the second track, “Don’t lose sight of it,” assaults you with a serious progressive riff that rivals even some of the titanic artists out there, only to follow up with a Dream Theater-esque piano underscore before leading into a tasty guitar solo coupled with an equally engaging keyboard lead.

Two tracks in and you can already tell you’re in for a ride. What What Became Of The Kingdom offers is something that I found in my favorite release last year (Kubbi‘s Ember)—a marriage of my two greatest loves. Rock music and video game music were always meant to be together, with the greatest composers of all time in the gaming world having been constantly influenced by rock music, even going on to produce rock or rock-inspired albums themselves (Nobuo Uematsu, I’m looking at you).

If you’re into games at all, or just want something a little different to jam that roots heavily in progressive rock and metal, give Pillars of the Sky a shot. There’s very little here that could even be considered disappointing.

Bowe, as Pillars of the Sky, offers all of his music at the Name Your Price option via Bandcamp. You can listen to What Became Of The Kingdom below, as well as all his other releases via Bandcamp.

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