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Review: SikTh’s The Future in Whose Eyes?

In 2015, SikTh released their first new music in 9 years with their Opacities EP. Opacities showcased a direct continuation of the band’s sound with their original line-up completely intact, but with the release of their 3rd long-player The Future in Whose Eyes?, founding member and vocalist Justin Hill has parted ways with the band and in his place we now welcome Joe Rosser of Aliases.

As we’ve previously discovered with Rosser’s work in Aliases, the man has a surprisingly similar vocal style to his predecessor, so his inclusion on this record should’ve been a good fit. Unfortunately what’s ended up happening is Mikee Goodman has taken on the brunt of the vocal work on The Future in Whose Eyes? This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because Goodman’s vocals are still instantly recognisable and entirely unique; his voice will forever be a huge part of what makes SikTh SikTh.

Sadly, so does Justin Hill’s voice. Hill leaves a big hole in the wider picture of SikTh’s sound and his sugary, sweeping vocals are not emulated by Rosser. Great examples come in the form of Century of the Narcissist? and The Aura which feature chorus melodies that sit more comfortably in the mid-range and don’t have the same impact as Hill’s soaring melodies.

As for instrumentation, there’s been a conceited effort to strip back SikTh’s song-writing style and focus on a more traditional structure that’s more akin to the band’s material on The Trees are Dead & Dried Out… Songs follow the typical verse/chorus structure and don’t show off many progressive tendencies like the band’s material on Opacities and Death of a Dead Day. It’s certainly not simplistic by any stretch of the imagination and the rhythm section always impresses with their technicality, but the song-writing does feel a little more predictable than usual.

That’s not to say that there isn’t some great material here. Vivid, The Aura, Cracks of Light (featuring a fantastic performance by Spencer Sotelo of Periphery), Riddles of Humanity and No Wishbones are obvious highlights with incredible performances throughout and the strongest melodies on the album. These 5 songs deserve their place on any SikTh setlist from here on and they show that regardless of the band’s change in personnel, they’re still the same SikTh you know and love.

There is one glaring flaw with The Future in Whose Eyes? though; someone needs to reign in Mikee Goodman. Goodman is singing on more choruses than ever on this record and it makes Rosser’s inclusion in the line-up feel a little redundant. The point of SikTh’s dual vocalists is that the two men bring different things to the table, but with this record the line is getting quite blurry and it’s not really benefiting the music. We also get 3 different spoken word tracks from Goodman which means there’s only 9 songs on the album which feature the entire band in action. If you’ve been waiting 11 years for another SikTh long-player then that’s a tad disappointing.

However, there’s no denying that there simply isn’t another band like SikTh. The Future in Whose Eyes? does manage to remind you frequently that SikTh are a band like no other and a true innovator in UK heavy music. The performances on this album could only have come from SikTh and as we’ve previously mentioned, there’s definitely 5 future SikTh classics here that deserve your attention. In the end, The Future in Whose Eyes? is an album that sees the band rediscovering themselves in the wake of a vocalist change. It’s sad to see how much it affects the overall product, but there’s more moments of genuine awe then there are moments of weakness on The Future in Whose Eyes? No song on this album is anything you’d regard as bad, but you can definitely tell the change in personnel has had a noticeable effect on the band’s song-writing and overall sound.

7/10

SikTh’s The Future in Whose Eyes? is out now and available to buy direct from the band or via Peaceville Records.

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Review: SikTh’s Opacities

opactities

SikTh are back! There’s a selection of words I didn’t expect to ever be writing but the original line-up has returned to make new music and the first comeback effort by the band has come into being as Opacities; a 6 track mini-album.

If you’re a fan of the band then you’ll know the SikTh’s 2 long-players actually sit in two different categories. While they have always played technically proficient and extremely progressive metal, their debut album The Trees Are Dead and Dried Out, Wait for Something Wild features music with a much more traditional song structure. Despite how much is going on in the music, there are clear verses, choruses and bridges which is unlike sophomore effort Death of a Dead Day which sees the band indulge in more progressive song-writing.

What Opacities does so well is combine both styles into a cohesive record. The songs are still considerably more long-form like on Death of a Dead Day as most songs average around 5 minutes in length. However, the band has seen fit to structure the songs in the more digestible silhouette of their first record and you’ll notice melodies crop up more frequently in a single song. This means that fans who sat more comfortably with one particular SikTh album can now enjoy the best of both worlds.

There has also been a considerable shift towards heavier grooves on Opacities. Philistine Philosophies is a great example of this as we often find ourselves in almost metalcore-esque beatdown territory but with that wonderfully progressive weirdness that SikTh deal in. While there’s still plenty of tapped leads and general fretboard madness, Opacities doesn’t see guitarists Graham Pinney and Dan Weller dealing in the same higher-pitched, upper-fretboard work that often punctuates The Trees Are Dead and Dried Out.

It’s also extremely satisfying to hear that the duel vocal attack of Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill has improved dramatically. While there is still plenty of screaming on this record, there’s a noticeable shift towards sung melodies with Goodman really showing how versatile a vocalist he can be on songs like Days Are Dreamed. Hill still deals with the glorious, floaty chorus melodies that so often become song highlights but thanks to Goodman’s own singing, Hill’s vocals are bolstered in a more satisfying way on Opacities.

The band still get a little too indulgent for my own liking as another spoken word Goodman piece takes up an entire track on the record where there could have been more music, but this is a minor niggle on a record that showcases exactly why SikTh have become so influential to the tech metal scene we have today.

Opacities is a fantastic comeback by one of the most dearly missed UK metal acts. SikTh are just as exciting and vital as they’ve ever been and despite the 9 year gap between Opacities and Death of a Dead Day, it genuinely feels like the band have never been away. Opacities has a wonderfully natural progression to it and it sounds exactly like the follow-up to Death of a Dead Day that we all dreamed of. It feels wonderful to finally say this but welcome back SikTh. We’ve really missed you.

9/10

SikTh’s Opacities is out now and available to buy from Peaceville Records.