This is a short EP, so I’ll keep the review short. It has been so long since their last release that I barely remember what it sounded like. I remember it fondly as an engaging and interesting mix of crazy technical playing, vocal experimentation, and good melodic sensibility to give it structure. This memory prompted me to spend some time with their new one.
It is true that all these elements are there, but they don’t blend as well as I remember. Let’s start with the melody. Most of time it is unoffensive and goes by pretty much unnoticed. This isn’t a bad thing. It acts like glue in the song and isn’t necessarily meant to be the forefront. There are places (track 1?) where it really shines. There are times where it is cringy, like “Philistine Philosophies.” I don’t think breaking up a pretty heavy sound focused on rhythm with a super cheesy anthem hook can ever work, even conceptually.
The vocals aren’t nearly as experimental as I hoped. There’s a lot of cleans and some not so much. Overall, they are pretty much what you’d expect from a djent band (not that I’d put them into this category). The choices are safe. This eliminates one of the defining features of SikTh: the use of vocals as an extension of the rhythm section. They do come back to this idea briefly, like on “Under the Weeping Moon.”
The best part of this album is how the pieces fit together. They still take a bunch of styles and ideas and are able to piece together a song out of them. There are definitely moments of brilliance when two contrasting ideas come together and fight each other in just the right way to create tension and release. “Under the Weeping Moon” is one of my favorite tracks for this reason.
The elephant in the room is “Tokyo Lights.” I’d say this is their only bit of trying something unsafe. Except that it is an exact replica of what they did on The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait For Something Wild. The difference is that the spoken poem on Dead was the last track. It basically worked there. On this EP, which is already short, the music gets broken up by it. This is a huge failure in album flow. I never want to even continue when I hit it, even if I press skip.
This is a shame, because the album closes really strong with two of the best tracks. Melodic sensibility with the combo of technical playing hits its apex on these.
Overall, this is still SikTh, but it is also safe. Any fan of the band will enjoy this. They were on hiatus for a while, and I’ll attribute some of the negatives as “getting back into the groove.” I will definitely check out their next release to see if they push into new territory.
I’ve gotten plenty of enjoyment out of this one. I’ll give it a 7/10. Here’s a sample: