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SikTh

SikTh - The Future In Whose Eyes album art

The Future In Whose Eyes?

2nd June 2017 – Millennium Night

01. Vivid
02. Century Of The Narcissist?
03. The Aura
04. This Ship Has Sailed
05. Weavers Of Woe
06. Cracks Of Light
07. Golden Cufflinks
08. The Moon’s Been Gone For Hours
09. Riddles Of Humanity
10. No Wishbones
11. Ride The Illusion
12. When It Rains

It might have been three years since SikTh first lurched back into active service after a passionate and persistent fan campaign, and eighteen months since the reactivated band first delivered new music in the form of the Opacities EP, but there is still a certain sense of novelty surrounding the band. Now, some eleven years after their last full-length, Death Of A Dead Day, they have brought us The Future In Whose Eyes?

Since reconvening, SikTh have been very clearly taking the second stage of their career one step at a time, and the decision to press on with a full album of new material – together with the commitments that inevitably follow – was a step too far for co-vocalist Justin Hill. Justin passed his microphone to Aliases vocalist Joe Rosser last summer, ready for SikTh to cram themselves into the back of a van for their first ever American tour. With Aliases obviously unable to do very much whilst guitarist Pin is on SikTh duties, and Joe’s ear for melody well showcased on Derangeable, he was an obvious choice to act as a foil for Mikee’s distinctive stylings.

Opening track “Vivid” hits the ground running, showcasing right from the beginning one of the album’s strongest selling points: Pin and Dan’s guitars, sounding thicker and more muscular than they ever have before. It seems that the journey to The Future In Whose Eyes? involved several overnight stops in Riff City. That opening tune also ends with a masterful reduction in tempo as a segue into a stately coda, reminding everyone why SikTh are the godfathers of British tech metal.

Elsewhere, The Future In Whose Eyes? is as eclectic as SikTh’s previous long-form efforts. There’s plenty of splenetic, technical riffery, with the spidery guitars underpinned by the rock solid rhythm sections. Bassist James Leach throws in liberal amounts of slap and pop, cutting through and adding some extra bite.

Riddles Of Humanity” is potentially the most outright shitkicker of a tune that SikTh have penned since “Pussyfoot“, proving that the band haven’t mellowed with age and is probably worth the purchase price of the album on its own. “Cracks of Light” (featuring a guest vocal from Periphery‘s Spencer Soleto) and “Ride The Illusion” are other high points, both in terms of energy and quality. “Golden Cufflinks” sees them in a more restrained and reflective mood, making it an unusual choice for a lead single and the song makes a lot more sense in the context of the album as a whole. With this in mind, The Future In Whose Eyes? is probably not an album to listen to on shuffle.

Even with a solid musical base to work from, The Future In Whose Eyes? isn’t necessarily a hit of instant gratification, and whether it gratifies at all is wholly dependent on how one feels about the vocals. It would be fair to say that Mikee’s vocals have always been distinctive to the point of singular, and that without them SikTh simply aren’t SikTh – but they’re an acquired taste that have proved to be too much of an obstacle for some in the past.

That much probably hasn’t changed. If anything, Mikee has delved further down the rabbit hole than ever before this time around, with multiple spoken word interludes and “How May I Help You?“-style narratives, complete with accent characterisation, do suggest that sometimes pre-existing poems and stories have been retro-fitted onto the songs rather than written explicitly for the new material. Nevertheless, these lyrics are stacked with potent and thought-provoking imagery, and Joe Rosser’s contributions, much like Justin’s before him, provide some melodic respite.

The Future In Whose Eyes? is probably not the album SikTh would have written had they carried on after Death of a Dead Day, but it’s not as far off as one might have thought. Perhaps there is an element of the band getting comfortable within itself again, or even a desire to give patient fans what they’ve been waiting for guiding their hands. We’ll have to wait and see whether any subsequent SikTh albums – should they materialise – experiment more and push the boundaries of their tried and tested formula.

The Future In Whose Eyes? does feel like a slightly qualified success. Some songs, especially “Century of the Narcissist?” and “Weavers of Woe” feel just a little undercooked and would have benefited with a bit more polishing before being committed to tape. However, the highs definitely outnumber the lows and the slow-burn nature of the album means that repeat listens are richly rewarded.

So, if you were a fan first time around or discovered The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild and Death of a Dead Day during their wilderness years, there’s much to (ultimately) enjoy in The Future In Whose Eyes? - but if they haven’t floated your boat thus far, there’s probably little that will change your mind. Either way, SikTh are unquestionably back and that surely has to give anyone with an interest in British progressive metal a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

Simon

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