REVIEW: SIKTH – “Opacities” [EP]
The responsibility for the creative engineering of the modern tech-metal scene arguably lies with two bands: Meshuggah and SiKth. Both bands behold a certain style and fretboard wizardry that for most of their careers was too much for the average fan. With the former enjoying the fruits of their laborious decade and half working up through the metal echelons, SiKth are back, and this time, the world is listening.
From reforming in the Christmas of 2013 to headlining the Red Bull stage at Download 2014 (which at the time was supposed to be a one-off show), it came as a surprise to hear the announcement of their new EP ‘Opacities’. Peering through the music and into the mindset of main lyrical contributor Mikee Goodman, it would seem to be a project that nearly couldn’t happen. This is revealed in the spoken narrative “Tokyo Lights”, which regales through the dark and lonely mindset of the frontman as he visited Japan in 2012. “Don’t let you boat be empty, don’t be a sunken dream,” he repeats. Although the odds five years ago of this EP seeing the light were slim to none, the importance it has on its creators is evident. The honesty and the purging of depression is real here, lifting the music to higher planes than were previously impossible.
Opening track “Behind The Doors” has everything you could expect from a SiKth track and more. Rammed full of energy, schizophrenic vocals and more groove than we’ve ever experienced, this is the sound of a band whose songwriting has caught up with their technicality. If it’s taken this group of musicians nearly a decade to find themselves energised for this, then it’s been worth waiting for.
The pre-released track “Philistine Philosophies” features one of the biggest choruses of the album, and it’s again this nod to songwriting that will see the band not just connect with their old fanbase, but to those from the burgeoning scene who may have no idea of them or their importance. “Under A Weeping Moon” is the best example of Goodman’s and Hill’s “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” dual vocal approach, weaving the quirky screams and majestic cleans together to create a diverse pallet of tension and release.
The level of musicianship on this release almost goes without saying. This a group of musicians who have kept their collective chops up with projects such as Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith’s Primal Rock Rebellion, as well as Krokodil, Aliases and Meta-Stasis. Slaves to their art and instrumentation, they sound better than they ever have, aided by tight production.
To reveal to someone the origins tech-metal and only show Meshuggah would leave the other half missing; to show Periphery as that other half would be misleading. Every scene needs a hero: someone for the fans and bands to look up to and say “yeah, they’re number one!” Having SiKth return is like finding the missing link; the part of the puzzle that was always missing and thus made it feel incomplete. ‘Opacities’ is that piece: a calculated maelstrom of passion and creativity that slots perfectly into place and for its loss in time, shines harder than all the others. The heroes are back, and in just six tracks, the past, present and future of the genre has been revealed. SiKth? Yeah, they’re number 1.