Sound — 10
Holy crap! Thats the best way to describe this cd the first time you listen to it, and the second time, and the thir. Having owned and worshipped the first album The Trees are Dead and Dried Out Wait for Something Wild for some time, I kind of knew what to expect in the musical side of things but to be honest I was blown away. As a guitarist I could listen to the 1st album and sort of figure out what was at least going on. Not this time! They are described as metal by most but that doesn't cover it, not by a mile. There are so many influences that it would be a waste of time to try and list them all. The technicality of every instrument in ever song is mindblowing and to just about everyone whos heard it, an inspiration to try and improve your own playing. The fact that the two guitarists (Pin and Dan Weller) break out of the strict lead and rhythm roles imposed on most bands is great. They work together to create riffs that sound incomplete when listened to alone, but together rise above anything you have previously heard. The evilness in the heavy-as-fuck riffs (they used seven strings for some of the songs this time), the tapping, the harmony, the solos, are all exceptional. Sometimes providing madness, like on "Another Sinking Ship"), while at others beautifully subtle guitar playing, such as the solo on "In This Light." They always seem to compliment the song and never get in the way or seem out of place.
James Leach plays bass and boy does he play it. On the last album he was part of the heart of the bands sound, whilst also taking his turn in the limelight. On this album he improves greatly (quite a feat) and keeps up with Pin and Dan easily. There's slap, tapping and incredible bass lines, check out the bass break in "As the Earth Spins Round." Although he improves on his playing it is not as obviously apparent as TTADADOWFSW, but this is not a bad thing. He picks his time and takes it. Once again adding to the song, not simply building to 1 riff in particular. Although I am not a drummer I can quite easily say that Dan "Loord" Foord is probably one of the most underrated drummers in the current metal scene. Easily changing time signature to create a more interesting sound, as opposed to the normal 4/4. He provides amazing fills, while at the same time thundering away with the double bass, that is way more apparent than on the previous album. It is a wonder how he can separate what his feet are doing to his arms. The overall sound of the album is quite simply amazing. Going from pure evil madness to the most melodic highs. This is more than likely due to the recording of the album, that was undertaken by Dan Weller and Justin Hill (singer). The mixing has also been done well as you can focus in on any instrument you wish and concentrate entirely on what it is doing with ease as the levels are perfection. If someone wants to hear the most original and diverse music in metal at the moment, this is where they should look.
Lyrics — 10
Like the music, the lyrics of SikTh are also very important and play a great role in the band. Mikee W. Goodman and Justin Hill provide the lyrical assualt that is SikTh. In the previous album they took more obvious roles, Mikee screamed the most, Justin sang the most. This time round, not so. Although it is obvious that Mikee's voice just sounds evil and Justin is one of the best singers you could find in a modern metal band, they do interchange more so than the last album. Justin's scream competes incredibly with Mikee's and Mikee can also sing, when he wishes so. The intertwining of their voices increases the "spastic" sound of the music and gives the songs pace when something might be played at a slower tempo. The lyrics are, unlike some bands, extremely meaningful for SikTh. Mikee (main writer) tackles many issues in this album that cover everything in society today. And refreshingly they take different viewpoints that have been overplayed by many. Bland Street Bloom for example examines the idea (this is my interpretation, don't get all defensive if its wrong) that the world today is afraid of difference within itself and we should all be the same.
Although the lyrics are honest and from the heart, they can also be fairly simple or just nuts. Flogging the Horses, for example, starts with "Flogging the horses, report in the office, camels walking free, while they're drinking honey tea." They do mix up their voices most of the time (quite often finishing each others sentences) but they do get their own chances to shine solo. Justin's turn with "In This Light" is more than likely the most melodic thing SikTh have ever played and despite the lack of tracks like "Can't We All Dream" off the previous album Mikee does enthrall with another poem. "Mermaid Slur" is much shorter than "When Will The Forest Speak" off the previous album but that does not make it any less of an addition to the album. We once again see Mikee showing his great vocal range (yes its a poem I know, but just check it out) and speaking his mind. Overall the vocals are possibly one of the highlights of this album. Hard to say considering I have rated pretty much everything, but they really are. From brutal screams, finishing each others lines to moments of melodic calm, before the storm whips you back again for more.
Overall Impression — 10
To compare this album to others would be unfair as it is so fresh and different. You could really only compare it to their previous effort which broke its own barriers. This simply pushes those barriers even further out of sight. It would also be unfair to pick out the most impressive songs of the album because there are no fillers on here. Every song has been slaved over long and hard and you can hear for yourself how much effort is on show. There really is no bad on this album. Really, I can't. All I could say is that I was pissed that it got released in the UK 20 whole days after America and Japan got it. But thats just pointless grumbling. I love this album to pieces and the only thing that I could imagine topping it would be their next album. But that is years away and this is now. Everyone should go out and buy this purely for research. It may be hard for those who like lighter, more relaxed music to swallow at first due to its sheer brutality but upon every listen it will become more and more enojyable. I think it was thing only thing I listened to for like 4/5 weeks. As a previous listener to SikTh from their 1st album it may seem like I have been incredibly biased. And for someone who hasn't heard the album it would be hard for you to believe me when I say I'm not being biased at all. But it really is the best thing I have ever heard. The originality pours out all over the place. The insane guitar work, the wild and unruly vocal work and the all the rest. It really is a lesson in how to create something truly different in a time when music is struggling to support itself amongst the mass produced crap you see everywhere. This is a must buy for fans of heavier music!