SikTh – ‘The Future in Whose Eyes?’

By Mark Johnson

It’s been eleven years since SikTh’s last studio album ‘Death of a Dead Day’ and though¬†2015 reunion EP ‘Opacities’ just about kept our impatience in check,¬†it’s a relief to finally have another full length record to hand from the progressive metal pioneers. ‘The Future in Whose Eyes?’ may not be as schizophrenic and quirky as their debut album, but it’s well worth the wait and makes you realise once more that there’s no other band quite like SikTh in existence.

This third full-length is the first without¬†singer Justin Hill who was unable to commit his time to a SikTh reunion. Joe Rosser, vocalist of Aliases, takes his place and merges into the band perfectly. Helped by his association with guitarist Pin (a fellow member of Aliases), Rosser fits into the band like he’s been a member for life and while it might not seem like it, the greatest compliment you can pay him on this record is that it’s hard to tell he’s there. Over SikTh’s previous records, the interplay between Hill and Mikee Goodman has¬†been central to the band’s appeal and key to their unique sound, not only on record, but even more so live. Rosser maintains the energetic, frenzied chemistry with Goodman so well that it’s hard to tell he’s a new recruit, producing clean vocal parts that carry the same impact as Hill, albeit with melodies that are slightly less catchy and memorable.

While Rosser does an admirable job of maintaining the status quo, Mikee Goodman goes beyond his previous work to give his best¬†performance to date. His unique scream carries¬†even more impact and his ever-present spoken-word stories have multiplied, with four separate pieces making their way onto the record. On ‘Cracks of Light’¬†his spoken-word characterisation leaks into the verse patterns, bringing the song to life and making it one of the stand-out moments of the whole record.

The intricate, technical instrumentation that SikTh are known for is¬†still present but built around more structured ideas. This could seem less exciting for die-hard fans yearning for a return to the free-form, highly experimental writing of their debut album,¬†but it makes for a cohesive record¬†that’s well structured and packed full of groove. Dan Weller and Pin still serve up neck-breaking riffs that are impossible to sit still through and the rhythm section of James Leach and Dan Foord holds everything together with intricate patterns and creative timings. The production is less stifling and precise than ‘Death of a Dead Day’, which allows the songs to breathe a little more, resulting in a record that stylistically fits somewhere between their two previous releases.

When SikTh announced their hiatus almost a decade ago, it seemed doubtful that we’d get to hear any more new material. Based on the strength of ‘The Future in Whose Eyes?’ it’s a huge relief that we’ve been gifted more because on this evidence, there’s still a lot more creativity left in the tank. There are very few bands able to execute their ideas to the same level as¬†SikTh and in their absence no bands have stepped forward to take their crown. It’s time to step aside because the kings of the genre are back on the¬†throne.

MARK JOHNSON

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