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Back in the Day

Worth revisiting: SIKTH, "Death of a Dead Day"

sikth_deathofadeaddayFor every band that carries on past their prime years to the point of self-parody, there's a barely noticeable, ultra-rare breed who split up at the height of their greatness. For the scarce bands that go out on top, there are even fewer who split up before they reach their potential, leaving the rest of us to wonder what could have been while raising horns to the one or two albums that they left us. This brings us to SIKTH.

Conceived in the same kingdom that brewed IRON MAIDEN and NAPALM DEATH, SikTh blended the former's gradiosity and progressive edge with the latter's abrasivenesses and hectic shifts. But from the first listen, SikTh's "Death of a Dead Day" sounds like it came from a universe where matchcore bands gave their hooks room to breathe, progressive bands didn't get bogged down with proficiency and death metal bands focused on clean, melodic songs more than speed. Sure, all of that happens sometimes, but how often do you hear it all on the same record?

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After several EPs and a full-length on Gut Records, SikTh enjoyed an appearance at Download, a Japan tour with ANTHRAX, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN and sold-out U.K. tour. But SikTh's defining moment arrived on the otherwise uneventful 6/6/06, when they treated the masses to Death of a Dead Day. Opening with the frantic one-two punch of "Bland Street Bloom" and "Flogging the Horses," instant riffs contort under relentless drumming and yelping vocal spasms. Guitarists PIN and DAN WELLER verge on beating the lives out of their instruments, but that's only apparent after multiple listens–there's too much to dissect on Death of a Dead Day for concern over how it was made. For such an aggressive band, SikTh are never overwhelming, and even moments like the blaring "Another Sinking Ship and the almost unimaginable "Summer Rain" sound organic. Perhaps that's because Death of a Dead Day never sounds like it's imitating anything else

Despite all its compositional and stylistic shifts, Death of a Dead Day never stops being catchy. This is the kind of band that makes you inadvertently headbang and pump your fist. The haunting "In This Light" sounds like it crawled off of a side of TOOL's Ænima, and the spoken interlude "Mermaid Slur" sports the band's NICK CAVE influence almost as much as their "Tupelo" cover on their first album, The Trees are Dead & Dried Out…Wait for Something Wild. The melodic "Where Do We Fall" even indicates at future radio success, if GOJIRA covering QUEENSRYCHE ever had a chance on your FM dial.

When it turns out that Martians have been existing among metalheads, I'll nominate SikTh as Exhibit A. How else to explain the way that they leave everyone else in the dust–most death metal bands sound generic next to the staggering "As the Earth Spins Round" and the showiest prog-metal theorists get shown up all over "Way Beyond the Fond Old River." Remember that kid you went to school with, who seemed like he was better than you at everything without even trying? Imagine that that guy was actually cool, and that he made a metal record.

The recent success of prog-inflicted bands like MASTODON makes me wonder what kind of audience an '09 release from SikTh would find. Their break-up is a loss to the rest of us, but even if they never record another note, SikTh could be remembered as the best British metal band of the decade.

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