EP Review: SIKTH Opacities
Like seriously, who isn't tired of hearing the term 'djent' at this point in time? Whether you embrace the subgenre or disapprove of its 'guitar sound onomatopoeia = actual name' identity, we can all agree that the mere mention of the word has risen to buzzword status. So, here we are, nine years after djent-pioneers SikTh's last release with a smirk on our face. Hit me with your best shot.
And… bullseye. You'll know you opened a can of worms with opening track, "Behind The Doors." There's just too much to love packed tightly in these four minutes. The overall aesthetic reminds me of Periphery without the unnecessary pop hooks. An array of vocal flair is executed on "Philistine Philosophies." Personally, I don't prefer the high clean singing displayed in this piece, but I can understand the appeal. For anyone else in my boat, I don't believe this element should be a dealbreaker as it is only used in small portions of the song and is counterweighted by varied distorted screams. I've always felt peculiar making this comparison with these two bands, but the delivery still borders on a Korn-like swagger, specifically in the intro of this track. In retrospection of their past material, the range of delivery vocal styles has always been prominent, yet the notion that they are not only still present, but radically expanding is outright impressive.
After losing count of the vocal identity disorder lapses undergone in the previous tracks, "Under The Weeping Moon" sets a steady pace, while focusing on over-arching hooks instead. "Tokyo Lights," an emotionally-driven schizophrenic spoken word, would technically be considered a filler song, but the powerful dynamics only add to the cohesion of Opacities. The vocals on "Walking Shadows" did not grab me as quick as previous pieces, but the guitar work makes up for this blip. It seemed after twenty minutes of lively aggressive music, the time for a softer song would do well. "Days Are Dreamed" fits this need and glides along with synth and percussion minimalism.
One cannot deny the rich underground history running through the veins of SikTh with groundbreaking influence from 2003's The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild and the most recent 2006's Death of a Dead Day, which preceded an unfortunate split. And while it may seem that these gentleman have been absent from their game for quite awhile, their production team is certainly up to speed. The EP was mixed by Forrester Savell, known for working with Karnivool, Animals As Leaders, and Dead Letter Circus, a few groups who filled the void during the afforementioned hiatus.
I've always viewed the stereotypical EP to consist of one or two solid tracks, some-filler borderline demoes, and an inclusion of an awkward down-tuned cover song from the 80's. But, SikTh rip those parameters a new one as they stack in at least three well produced replayable tracks. It is certain that many old fans have been sitting on the edge of their seat for this moment with both high and skewed expectations. But let me make clear, the positive reception of this reunion is not altered by nostalgia, but rather a need to restore what actually was beloved in the genre. With down-tuned 0101010001 palm muting and smoothly produced high-pitched vocals, the genre has become a internet sensational stereotype laughing stock. However, this EP's material is what the watered down imitators have been missing: experimentation driven by integrity. The only thing that would allow this release to be even more enjoyable, would be expanding this musical appetizer into a full-length entree, which I hope and assume is on the horizon.