The Future In Whose Eyes? review by SikTh

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  • Released: Jun 2, 2017
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (21 votes)
SikTh: The Future In Whose Eyes?
10

Sound — 9
Like any band that is usually credited with pioneering an entire movement within a genre, there remains a certain mystique to UK experimental metallers SikTh. After having released two absolutely groundbreaking releases (2003's "The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild" and 2006's "Death of a Dead Day"), the band immediately took a nearly decade-long hiatus, during which time, nearly every new metal band coming out seemed to owe a little something to SikTh. Periphery, in particular, claimed an incredibly heavy SikTh influence, while shades of it could be detected in nearly every other progressive metal band to be part of the new "djent" movement. The band returned in 2013, and released their critically-acclaimed "Opacities" EP in 2015 to great fanfare. Personally, I thought "Opacities" was an incredible EP, whose only flaw was being too short. After the release of the EP, vocalist Justin Hill was replaced by Joe Rosser, and the release of the "No Wishbones" single was secured. And now, SikTh have released their third full-length album, their first since 2006, "The Future In Whose Eyes?"

With competition from so many imitators, SikTh may find themselves struggling a bit to maintain a sense of innovation and freshness in their music, but straight away in the opening track "Vivid", it's clear that this is a band content to keep doing what they do, at the best level that they can. Pummeling bass, drums and guitar give way to the dual vocal tag team of Joe Rosser and original vocalist Mikee Goodman. While Rosser has already had a fair amount of acclaim in his band Aliases, his vocal style fits SikTh's music quite well, making him a quite able replacement for Justin Hill, and his melodic vocals are a perfect counterpoint for Mikee's eccentric style. Guitarists Dan Weller and Graham "Pin" Pinney still absolutely shred their way through the record, with riffs and solos that suggest a fine line between finesse and chaos, and albeit with a bit less polyrhythmic interplay than their "djent" contemporaries.

James Leach's bass playing is a central feature on many of the album's tracks, particularly when he plays in his slap style, and Dan "Loord" Foord slams his way through the drum parts on this album as ably as any of the bigger names in the metal scene today. While many of the tracks are kind of typical for the band's style, without much change in the band's formula at all, there are still a fair deal of great moments on the record, whether it be the solo in "Vivid", the intro guitar line and spoken vocal in "The Aura", the "Diary of a Madman"-esque clean guitar break in "Weavers of Woe", a guest appearance from Spencer Sotelo of Periphery in the chorus of "Cracks of Light", the absolutely pummelling intro from "Riddles of Humanity"... these are all classic SikTh moments through and through. There are also some of SikTh's now-trademark spoken word tracks on the album, and they definitely evoke an atmosphere, though I can't help but crack up at Mikee Goodman's voice at points, for its sheer ridiculousness.

Perhaps lending a bit to the album's connection to the more modern imitators is the fact that the album was mixed and mastered by Adam "Nolly" Getgood of Periphery, and it's a pretty good mix. Dan Weller's production job is great on it, though I often feel like there's not really enough separation between the two vocalists in the mix, and some of Joe Rosser's harsh vocals kind of get lost in the mix. The writing is excellent as one would expect from the band, featuring enough technicality to keep the mathcore purists happy, while still emphasizing great melodies and epic choruses, and dare I say that many of the guitar solos on the album are quite tastefully done.

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Lyrics — 9
With the crazy duality of Mikee Goodman's eccentric harsh vocals and Joe Rosser's melodic vocals, SikTh's vocals and lyrics definitely reflect a more interesting side of the metal scene. It's hard to really gather any distinct meaning from the lyrics, and many of them seem to be told from a first-person perspective, such as the lyrics for "Vivid": "Walking through the corridor again/I start to shiver now/I see a figure in the house/Now she is approaching me/What can I do for thee?/Can you find the bathroom?/Impossible mission/Where are we?/I thought you knew?/Who the fuck are you?/Oh no!", or the lyrics to "Ride the Illusion": "Do you need what you think you need?/Head first into the zombies feed/Keep on looking at the ground in front of you/You look like you're lost/Turn on your GPS!/Sign outside reads happy hour/But every face looks grey and dour/Underachieving and under exposed/Lacking any culture but the local sinking hole!".

The ills of society also get a mention in some of the songs, such as "Riddles of Humanity", which is about as close to a political statement as the band overtly makes on the record: "Character destruction for the entire whole world to see/Make sure the main focus is on negativity/The riddles of humanity there's really nothing like it/Spinning round in circles trying to seep within a wound". "Weavers of Woe" also focuses on this theme: "Like a monster as big as the moon/A formula in which they all consume/I now see the twisted legions lost in greed/And I see so many twisted demons on TV/Money makes their world go round/They weave their webs without a sound/Malice makes their world go round/They weave their webs without a sound".

Joe Rosser, being the newest member of the band, gets a fair deal of room to stretch his vocal talents on this record, and he does so quite ably. Those who may be worried that he will not be an adequate replacement for Justin Hill will have nothing to worry about on this record. And Mikee Goodman squawks and caws his way through this album like a seagull on steroids and psychedelics, which I wouldn't have any other way. His unique vocal performance is one of those things that makes SikTh SikTh.

Overall Impression — 9
"Opacities" was quite a comeback for the band, and no doubt many appetites will be whet by "The Future In Whose Eyes?". Their 2015 EP was a mere taste of what was to come for this record, and the band has done a wonderful job of balancing technicality and good songwriting in a manner that can only be uniquely SikTh. Rather than fail to impress in the light of so many imitators who latched on to SikTh's sound, the band competently comes back to show the rest of us how it's done. This is definitely one of the most impressive releases of 2017 for me so far, and an absolutely solid record from one of the most innovative and unique bands in metal/prog/mathcore/whatever you want to call it. It doesn't really mess with the SikTh formula too much, but it's also definitely a case of not fixing what isn't broken.

I patiently look forward to what SikTh has planned for us next.

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29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    EpiExplorer
    I really dig it but there's mixed feelings: While the inherent sense of whackiness is kind of there, the intensity and angular sense of speed is lacking entirely. All these songs are mid-tempo and never really go above it. Opacities was a perfect lead-off from DoaDD but this is like... 'how do we get down with the kids?' but not quite as bad as that. Essentially, there's just less 'energy' in this album but it's got the best production and composition values of anything so far.  Fave song is probably The Aura. 
    travislausch
    I did find a few sort of thrashy moments later on in the album, though, and that's probably where I'd have gotten a sense of energy from. 
    Niamorg
    I agree with you. The only song I thought had that kind of energy was Riddles of Humanity.
    Redfinton22
    Really when you listen to just the songs posted here from this brand new album I can see the Periphery comparisons. When you go back to Death of a Dead Day or even Trees are Dead and Dried Out though, and compare that kind of material to what else may have been happening at the time, you might have a better idea of how on the edge these guys have been this entire time
    theblazinasian
    Good review. The album doesn't have as much variety as I think there could be, and they don't stray from the Sikth formula much. Despite that, I still can't stop listening to it.
    rocky0
    Another Periphery ripoff?
    Zan595
    You're kidding right? Sikth was one of Misha's biggest influences way before Periphery existed.
    rocky0
    Really? All I can hear is repetition of the same style that Misha and co mastered years ago. Nothing innovative here.
    Zan595
    Dude go listen to the album "Death of a Dead Day" by them, its amazing. Quite a bit more up tempo and insane than this release. But yeah, these guys are credited as being one of the "founders" of this sound.
    Zan595
    rocky0
    This feels still like a Periphery-lite with a horrible ass singer.
    MH400
    rocky0, shouldn't you be at school? SikTh piss all over Periphery. 
    rocky0
    I wish I was still that young, lol. Keep off the personal attacks. Nah, bro. Take your fanboy glasses off for a day.
    rocky0
    It's cool I guess. The horrible singing ruins the otherwise somewhat good instrumentation.
    Zan595
    See, "horrible singing ruins the otherwise somewhat good instrumentation" is exactly how I feel about Periphery lol, Spencer seems like a cool guy but I just can't get into his vocals. I happen to love Sikth's vocals, agreed to disagree I guess.
    rocky0
    Spencer is hella talented compared to this dreadlock guy who has whacky singing voice without any coherent melodies at all. 
    travislausch
    I think it's fairer to say that Periphery are more of a SikTh ripoff.
    rocky0
    Pfft, they only wish to sound half as good as Periphery. No wonder they play these small ass shows compared to the bigger club tours Periphery has all around the world. EDIT: They even got Spencer to the new album and it is probably the only good song on the album since that dreadlocked guy isn't ruining the whole thing.
    Redfinton22
    Ehhh, time to do some homework on who influenced who lol
    rocky0
    They might have had a small influence but Periphery does their own thing totally. They are more coherent and stable with the quality of their songwriting. Spencer might be irritating sometimes too but nothing on the level of that guy from Sikth. I laugh at those mumbled spokenword songs too.
    stueey
    I wouldn't call the influence small buddy. I remember the first time i listened to Periphery and thought "This sounds like Sikth".  Periphery are great, but Sikth are KING.
    rocky0
    Pfft. Sikth are just riding the djentwave that Periphery created basically. No wonder they play small ass clubs and bars mostly.
    theblazinasian
    Yeah, and Meshuggah is riding the wave that Tesseract created. /s
    rocky0
    Well Meshuggah is the band that created the djenty riffing in the first place. I can agree on that. Yet Periphery took it on a whole another level. More melodic, more interesting chords and better songs. Meshuggah is borefest.
    theblazinasian
    I won't fault you for disliking Meshuggah or Sikth. Their music is certainly less accessible than Periphery's. But I think it's important to recognize that while Meshuggah created the polymetric groove side of djent, Sikth pioneered the more tech-oriented riff side of it. Sikth's first two records came out in 2003 and 2006, respectively, while Periphery's debut was released in 2010. You don't have to like Sikth, but they've been making this kind of music long before Periphery.