Tag Archives: prog

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.

Advertisements

Live Review: earthtone9 and Dorje at The Camden Underworld 9/9/16

DORJE
dorje

It becomes instantly apparent why Dorje have been chosen as main support for this earthtone9 show. The band deal in the same sort of groovy proginess that earthtone9 do, but there’s more of a focus on melodic rock rather than punishing heaviness. Dorje have a really robust and well-rehearsed sound that often reminds us of Coheed and Cambria and they play an extremely tight set that warms up the audience well. The only real negative I noticed is that the band are a little static in their performance, but thankfully they make up for this by being extremely accomplished song-writers. That Rob Chapman also has a powerful set of lungs on him.

EARTHTONE9
earthtone9

Playing a career-spanning set that includes songs from every single earthtone9 release to date, this is an incredibly special performance from the underappreciated alt metal giants. It’s really quite rare to see earthtone9 on the stage again, but here they are 20 years since they first started. What’s really quite impressive is how varied earthtone9’s music is. We move from the weirdo progressive metal leanings of their first two albums to the more streamlined, almost Deftones-esque alt metal of arc’tan’gent and then we also get the more melodic rock stylings of Amnesia from the omega EP and then we’re right up to date with the groovy, Mastodon-esque sound of For Cause and Consequence and IV. What’s really striking is just how monstrous earthtone9’s early material sounds thanks to the wonderfully robust sound at the Underworld. I couldn’t help but think how good a modern remaster of lo-def(inition) discord would sound like if it had this sort of power. earthtone9 put on a legendary performance that does their amazing back catalogue justice and I really hope we continue to see more music from them because they really are one of the UK heavy music scene’s most precious treasures.


Review: Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s Split 7″

American desert rockers Karma to Burn have joined forces with Kent prog rockers Sons of Alpha Centauri and the result is a double dose of instrumental rock that’s big on groove and not much else.

KARMA TO BURN
ktb

Karma to Burn’s contribution is a spacey, 4 minute track called Six that hammers home a pretty satisfying groove but does little else to hold your attention. The track ends up playing out like a very long album opener which would be fine if the band had a stronger track to follow it up but they don’t as each band on this split only contributes a single track.

4 minutes, one riff; that’s all you’re getting. Fingers crossed Sons of Alpha Centauri have a little more to offer because this is an inconsequential opening on a 7” that costs seven of your British pounds.

5/10

SONS OF ALPHA CENTAURI
soac

Sons of Alpha Centauri thankfully put forward a song that has a little more meat on its bones. Their contribution is a song called 66 (get it? Six66? GROAN) and the song is a somewhat proggier affair than Karma to Burn’s effort. The off kilter guitar work brings back memories of classic earthtone9 which is certainly a compliment compared to Karma to Burn who brought on feelings of boredom.

Unfortunately while this composition actually bothers to move and progress into different riffs, the band’s sound really needs something else. The instrumentation just isn’t interesting enough to hold your attention without any vocals and this is where Sons of Alpha Centauri fall down. Sons of Alpha Centauri are making the sort of alternative rock that bands like Tool have been so successful with, but while bands like that include all the elements needed to flesh out their sound, Sons of Alpha Centauri don’t feel like they have enough in their repertoire to hold your attention.

6/10

Instrumental rock is a difficult genre to deal in because as both bands on this split have proven, missing an element as important as a vocalist can end up making your music sound sparse and uneventful in the process. Both Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri need to spend more time making their music move in interesting and engrossing ways if they are to continue as instrumental acts.

Karma to Burn and Sons of Alpha Centauri’s 7” split is out now and available to buy from H42 Records and direct from Sons of Alpha Centauri.


Review: Irk’s Bread and Honey

Irk - Bread and Honey - cover

Irk are a rather interesting prospect. The band take the off kilter, palm-muted chaos of djent and mix it with progressive metal in a similar vein to Deftones and earthtone9 and it makes for a sound that is wonderfully unique. The band released their debut EP Bread and Honey back in May and it’s a record that’s seriously worthy of your attention.

The Leeds trio have a sound that is worryingly large for a band so early into their career. Bread and Honey is a quaking beast of an EP stuffed with massive riffs and heart-on-sleeve yelping. There are no verses and choruses to be found on this record and it’s extremely better off for all its progressive leanings.

Irk are a big fan of groove and these bass-heavy riffs pack a serious punch. From the moment the EP starts with its blood-curdling scream and monolithic melody you know you’re in for one hell of a ride. EP opener Care Taker barrels along with all the disjointed twitchiness of a great TesseracT riff but thanks to the raw, thrashy fury of the drum work it comes across with more of a mathcore vibe and it’s an absolute joy to listen to.

What also helps Irk’s music is their appreciation for the Deftones’ quiet/loud dynamic. The songs on Bread and Honey often slow down and strip back the intensity to allow for a moment’s respite before the band unleash all hell and blast another huge riff into your face. It’s not the most original trick in the book but Irk know how to use it with masterful devastation like in the middle eight of Mammalian Love March.

Special mention has to be given to the bass because the twangy, funk-laden bass-lines are a huge draw across the entire EP. They bolster the impact of the riffs and add to the raucous energy that the band feed off. Bread and Honey really is a hugely satisfying listening experience.

Special mention also has to be given to the production because unlike the djent bands that Irk are influenced by, someone has seen fit to not give this EP that typical, shiny layer of polish that’s so common on djent releases. Irk are considerably better off sounding raw and aggressive and it really sounds like the band put all their blood, sweat and tears into these recordings. If Bread and Honey was given the clean, glassy production of a TesseracT recording then it simply wouldn’t have the same ball-busting impact.

The only real negative I can throw at this EP is it’s all over in 10 minutes and quite frankly I need more. Irk have whet my appetite for more rollicking, mathcore lunacy and that’s a pretty good indication as to how good Bread and Honey is. You’d be a fool not to give Irk at least 10 minutes of your time. It might be the best 10 minutes you’ve had with heavy music this year.

9/10

Irk’s Bread and Honey is available to download now and at a pay-what-you-want price point directly from the band. You should probably go and get it right now.


News: The Safety Fire Reveal New Album Details and Release Date

Prog metallers The Safety Fire have revealed their sophomore album will be called Mouth of Swords and will release on September 2nd 2013 presumably through InsideOut Music.

In what has to be the best press release in the history of man, vocalist Sean McSweeney has said:

“Since our first album we’ve all concentrated more on having awesome haircuts and facial hair. Does that go some way to explaining why Mouth of Swords is shit hot? Some may suggest so. But all I know is I’m on it and that’s enough for most people. This album is pure gold, and will be priced accordingly.”

Guitarist Dez Nagle adds:

“I must have said “there is no topping Winger’s 1988 classic ‘Winger'” on a daily basis during the recording process. I’ve never been wrong about anything in my whole life, so it was a rather humbling experience to realise that what we were creating was in fact better than Winger’s 1988 classic, ‘Winger’. I felt like a bozo deluxe. After a while I came to accept …that we had created the best album of all time, ever, in the history of known time. The burden of holding such musical gold was too much for us to handle and the band agreed to release it through InsideOut Music, on September 2nd. I’d like to think the music can speak for itself, but music can’t speak, so I’ll speak on its behalf. Hello. I hope you enjoy me.”

The full track-list is below:

1. Mouth Of Swords
2. Glass Crush
3. Yellowism
4. Beware The Leopard (Jagwar) feat. Tommy Rogers
5. Red Hatchet
6. Wise Hands
7. The Ghosts That Wait For Spring
8. I Am Time, The Destroyer
9. Old Souls


News: Stream TesseracT’s Altered State in Full

TesseracT’s sophomore album Altered State is now available to stream in its’ entirety from Century Media’s YouTube Channel. Check it out:

Altered State is released through Century Media on May 27th. It will be TesseracT’s first record with Ashe O’Hara on vocal duties and the band’s first album of completely new material.


Review: Anacondas’ Sub Contra Blues

Anacondas are a bizarre little project. Stuart and James Hunter are ex members of metalcore legends Johnny Truant, but this fact is pretty irrelevant when you hear what Anacondas sound like. With the addition of drummer Timothy Newman, the band have created an intriguing blend of doom and grunge that is lead with some pleasant, almost shoegazey singing that only occasionally becomes a yell.

Sub Contra Blues is the band’s debut album and it clocks in at a solid 38 minutes with enough riff worship to satisfy your average headbanger. As mentioned before, the band’s sound is a pretty unique blend of doom and grunge that fans of Cave In and even Mastodon will find things to latch onto.

“Now hold on”, I hear you say; “didn’t you say Anacondas sounded doomy?” Well yes, in the sense that a lot of their riffs are massive, down-tuned affairs that are given plenty of room to ring out. But when the band are given an opportunity to showcase their technical abilities they turn out some enormous riffs like the one featured at the beginning of High Horse. It’s these moments that really set Anacondas’ music apart from the rest. Not only are they blending genres like a pro, but they’re also finding opportunities to add lovely little prog flourishes to their music that add a very unique layer to the overall package.

The main issue with the album is that these moments are few and far between. The whole release meanders along at the same tempo and the down-tuned guitars are so bottom heavy that you rarely get to appreciate a melody. When the music moves up the fretboard even the slightest, Anacondas’ music really benefits from the added clarity.

Also, the shared vocals between all 3 members means the album has a problem with consistency. We generally enjoyed Anacondas better when the vocalists were shouting as it worked with the sludgy grooves far better than the alt-rock crooning.

You can’t deny that Anacondas are a band with a tonne of great ideas, but Sub Contra Blues proves that maybe they don’t all work that well together. There are moments of pure brilliance locked away in this record and with some added focus they could be the driving factor in a future Anacondas release. Is this album a failure? Maybe. But it’s certainly an admirable one at that and one that’s massively intriguing which can’t be said about a lot of bands’ music.

6/10

Anacondas’ Sub Contra Blues is available to download now.


News: TesseracT’s Altered State Releases on May 27th

Prog metallers TesseracT return with their 2nd album Altered State which releases on Century Media May 27th. You can apparently pre-order the thing at www.tesseractband.co.uk but the site is down at the time of writing. In the mean time you can check out the album trailer below:

Altered State is the first release with Ashe O’Hara on vocals who replaces Elliot Coleman.


Review: Black Market Serotonin’s Something From Nothing

Where have Black Market Serotonin been hiding all this time? No band should be allowed to have such a unique and accomplished sound and stay off the radar for so long. This Manchester trio appear to have been together since 2008 with their debut single only coming out in 2010. It appears that Black Market Serotonin have been locked away perfecting their craft for quite a long time, but my God has it been worth it.

Black Market Serotonin’s debut album Something From Nothing sounds like earthtone9, Pitchblend and Muse got sexy and had a proggy, space-rock, riff-baby and they fed him synthesisers. We can’t stress enough how beautifully original this record sounds.

The whole thing kicks off with the epic instrumental Singularity which gently starts with some warm electronics before stepping up a notch with some brilliant tremolo picking. The song builds and builds and feels like it’s about to explode before it catches you off guard with a moment of respite. Then the riffs hit and man do they hit.

The album continues in a similar fashion. None of the songs on Something From Nothing stick to a standard song structure and instead favour a progressive flow that twists and turns but continues along a natural path that isn’t jarring to listen to. Vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist Andrew Pimblott commands with his booming voice and does a fantastic job of earthing the band’s sound into something more palatable. His melodies are simple yet memorable which allows the music to go off on interesting tangents without becoming too much of a prog headache.

Stand out tracks include DeadByFiveOClock and Irons in the Fire which deliver the right amount of experimental musicianship coupled with the mightiest of riffs. The first half of the album really succeeds in delivering catchy vocal hooks yet maintaining some down-right engaging and intriguing rock that wouldn’t sound out of place at an arena show.

Unfortunately, Black Market Serotonin get a little too ambitious with their 5 part album title track. That’s right, 5 parts. Muse’s Exogenesis symphony is now quivering in fear. While certain parts of the song still showcase the band’s truly epic prog rock, other parts feel like filler for the sake of filler. Part 4 in particular is 4 minutes of a single hook that never progresses into anything else. It just feels a bit unnecessary.

But really, this is the only negative we can throw at Black Market Serotonin’s Something From Nothing. The band have unleashed some truly epic prog rock that deserves your attention. If there’s any justice in the world, Black Market Serotonin will be playing stadiums and festivals where their music can be truly appreciated on the sort of scale it was made for.

8/10

Black Market Serotonin’s Something From Nothing will be released on CD April 22nd on Super Star Destroyer.


Review: Employed to Serve’s Long Time Dead

Let me get one thing clear before we start this review; you want Employed to Serve in your life. Employed to Serve are a two piece metallic, technical hardcore band from London who feature Sammy Urwin on guitar/backing vocals and Justine Siân Jones on lead vocals. Their biography lists their drummer as “TBA” so we’re assuming the band used a drum machine for this EP (but we can’t really tell). Regardless, they won’t be drummerless for very long after hearing how accomplished Long Time Dead is.

There is an awful lot going on here. The song stucture is not your traditional verse/chorus/verse/chorus shtick; this is progressive, angry metal. Jones’ vocals are ferocious throughout and sound like a woman who has nothing else other than this band. These songs sound urgent and vital and are doing their absolute best to hold your attention. They achieve this by never sitting still for too long and the guitar work is always fresh and interesting to listen to.

Unlike the mathy leanings of bands like Crocus and Kerouac, Employed to Serve’s songs are generally quite mid-paced affairs. Yes, they are heavy and screamy but they don’t belt along at a ridiculous pace and give you a chance to take in what the band are doing.

The big draw comes half-way through the EP when Urwin brings his vocals to the mix. After 3 tracks of flat-out, nasty metal, The World Keeps Turning and I Keep Dying unleashes a huge, memorable sung section from Urwin. It takes you completely by surprise and gives the song greater atmosphere. It’s a stark, haunting melody and another string on Employed to Serve’s musical bow.

This is still early days for Employed to Serve. The band have released a two track demo and one other song so Long Time Dead has no right to sound so good so early in this band’s career. The production on this EP makes the band sound huge. The best example of this comes in the final song Fragments which progresses into a massive sung section that is just epic in scale. The mix is also brilliantly done and every element of Employed to Serve’s sound is clear as day while also maintaining a dirty, crusty guitar tone.

It is incredibly difficult to find things to criticise when it comes to Employed to Serve’s Long Time Dead. Their lack of bassist means they lack a driving rhythm that could make them sound even bigger but this EP is proving that it isn’t really necessary. Long Time Dead is 12 minutes of the most exciting metal you’ll hear and we cannot wait to hear what Employed to Serve have in store for the future.

9/10

Employed to Serve’s Long Time Dead is available as a free download from Grindcore Karaoke and a limited edition cassette from the band.