This is one of the best debut albums I've heard in a long, long time. Period.
'To Sail Black Waters' by Californians Secrets of the Sky is like a mini cosmos of doom and darkness. Despite the fact that the band's only existed since 2010, the album is delivered with an air of authority which many socalled veterans aren't capable of. The professionalism reaches from the fantastic cover to the excellent and very modern and fresh sounding production (courtesy of Juan Urteaga who worked with a.o. Machine Head and Testament) to the actual execution of these four songs which last just over 40 minutes all in all.
Secrets of the Sky offer the kind of diversity I love in music and ditto influences. I can hear Type O Negative (especially where the clean vocal takes over from the growl for a while in Decline), My Dying Bride and Anathema (most notably
somewhere in Black Waters). The promotional cover letter mentions that this album is a must for fans of The Ocean, Opeth, Isis and Agalloch, but to be honest, I find this a notch better than any of those. And I really do appreciate to listen to a new doom band which doesn't go for the sludge sound. I think we've reached a point where we've had just about enough of those.
If we were to do the 'Best of 2013' sheet right now, Secrets of the Sky would definitely take the Newcomer of the Year award. A-fucking-mazing album.