Last time we reviewed SikTh, we were full of questions regarding their return. The future was clouded with fog, given that bands are prone to announce returns only to flare into action briefly before disappearing again, unable to recapture the spark that once motivated them to remain active. Even if bands do return, it’s unlikely that they’ll release material fast, gathering strength and getting into the beat of things. However, it appears that SikTh are quite done messing around and the period between their dormancy and their return to the waking world is set to be very short. Hot off the heels of their “mini-album”, Opacities, the group gives us The Future in Whose Eyes? which, where Opacities was good yet “safe” or “natural”, challenges their sound and mixes it with a lot of new. Lo and behold, it works, and the first true release of their comeback should return SikTh into the forefront of the community, if it knows what’s good for it.
At the base of the “new” SikTh sound, which is more an amalgam of new and old ideas, lie several elements. The first is a much heavier presence by Mikee Goodman and his unique vocal stylings. While Goodman used to have his pride and place in each album with his spoken word pieces that were so unique and still hold a strange allure, on The Future in Whose Eyes? his deep timbre is to be found everywhere on the album. In intros, middle passages, and bridges, Goodman lends the album a distinctly weird vibe. His more solid presence also does something to the structure of the album, challenging the established SikTh progression; while the album certainly opens with their trademark signature of two high-octane opening tracks, the rest of it doesn’t play quite as nicely. Heavy tracks live alongside anthemic ones, punctuated by Goodman’s off-kilter musings and almost-narration,
“Century of the Narcissist”, the second of these high energy openers, is a great example. Breaking up the back and forth structure of the track, Goodman is featured heavily as it transitions from its first passage and into its outro. His voice disturbs the A/B/A/C structure so common in this style of metal and catches the listener by surprise. This tool is utilized again and again on the album. Which isn’t to say it doesn’t have some straightforward, bounce-along tracks. On the contrary, the presence of anthemic tracks has also been increased nor is Goodman’s presence anathema to that sort of “straight forward” track . “The Aura” for example opens with his voice but is as “call and response” as a SikTh track has ever been. The sweeping choruses are begging for a crowd to sing them (and hopefully they will, very soon). This then is the second element that makes The Future in Whose Eyes? such a strong comeback; instead of just leaning on one aspect of their sound as a means for innovation, SikTh have turned the knobs to different settings all over the board, creating a recognizable yet fresh formula for what they do.
The last element is a somewhat poetic one as it exemplifies the aesthetically appealing nature of coming full circle. SikTh have influenced so many bands but perhaps paved the way the most for the meteoric rise of Periphery. And so, it is only poetic that The Future in Whose Eyes? was mixed by none other than Adam “Getgood” Nolly and boy, did he knock this one out of the park. While Nolly is known for his robust bass tone and pristine mixes, he’s really outdone himself on this album. A straightforward approach, sufficient for most bands in the style today, would have served SikTh well enough but that’s not the approach they went with. While the bass is indeed prominent, as it should be, there’s also a treble-y finish to everything, giving the album a brilliance and edge right where it needs it. Thus, the cymbal antics which make “Weavers of Woe” work, for example, are just where they need to be and the running leads replete throughout the album lose not a single note to the massive presence of the groove section.
This final bow on the package that is The Future in Whose Eyes? makes it an incredibly powerful album. The space is too short here to go into the all cool ideas on it. It might be met with some resistance from a dedicated and justly concerned fan base but, if they know what’s right for them, they should wholeheartedly embrace this more sporadic and varied direction the band are going in. Every change on the album, including the one in artwork style, is a blessed one, changes that signify that SikTh are not about grasping for the safe glory of the past but rather adamant in their pursuit of new sounds and ideas for the band. The Future in Whose Eyes? is a lesson in experimentation, showing that the vector of new music doesn’t always have to be more extreme or more out there but sometimes enjoys from growth in multiple directions at once. The future for SikTh is now bright and assured; all things being equal, there’s plenty more for this band to gives us and we can’t wait to get it.
The Future in Whose Eyes? will be released on June 2nd, via Millennium Night (which is a name you should remember by the way, as it now houses Peaceville Records and Kscope). We highly suggest you pre-order it here.