Sikth - Death of a Dead Day
Bieler Bros Records
Alt./Progressive Metal
12 songs (53.40)
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Charles
Archive review
Sikth fell apart last year after only two full-length releases. It was a shame, partly because I wanted to hear more from them, but also because the two albums they left us with revealed an amazing potential that with hindsight was probably never really fulfilled.

I have very fond memories of seeing them as handpicked support for the ultra-avant-garde British jazz musician, Django Bates. Half the audience walked out during their opening set, clearly unable to recognise that what makes Django special, obscure and quirky music underlined by an obvious sense of humour and search for catchiness amidst the experimentation, are the exact reasons they were such an appropriate choice. At the time of their first release, which was eventually reviewed and received an 85 on this site, I was trying to be a jazz musician full-time, and (pretentiously) only really interested in the “challenging” end of metal; where it overlapped into the mathcore scene with bands such as The Dillinger Escape Plan. For me, at the time, Wait For Something Wild was utterly staggering. It combined the angularly technical and furiously unpredictable approach of those geeky American bands, but was filled-to-bursting with bouncing melodies and, even better, multilayered, rapidfire guitar harmonies blossoming around neckbreaking riffs.

As I went “forward to basics”, posting more on, and discovering what I had been missing in the Church of Real Metal, Sikth went out of favour somewhat. Partly this was because elements of their sound just don’t wash when you listen to them from a more authentically metal perspective. The vocals are far too yelping, far too perilously close to the alt. or even nu scenes to give them credibility in this kind of environment, and it makes them sound dated to an extent. But partly, it was because the flaws in their first album simply began to outweigh the remarkable strengths, making me suspect that in falling in love with it I had been seeing only the peaks, when around those peaks were mediocre troughs. Boring two minute ambient breakdown in the middle of an otherwise exhilarating four minute song? No thanks... Returning to it now, I feel I have been unfair. It’s a mishmash of utter awesomeness distilled and frustrating “hmmm”, but give me that a thousand times over a band that is consistently, competently, reasonably ok, any day of the week.

Anyway, Death of a Dead Day is far tighter, and far more mature. They focussed their sound so that not only were the songs less erratic, but, as it transpired, darker and more metallic as well. The opener, Bland Street Bloom, gives you a pretty good idea about what to expect. Hyperactive and technically demonstrative riffs, with alternating squawky/clean vocals and a harsh edge evident in a lot of the more slamming moments that probably draws inspiration from Meshuggah, although this rhythmic tomfoolery generally occurs at a higher tempo. Unlike the first, which dazzles at first then makes its flaws apparent later, this is a grower, sounding more accomplished and mature now than on the first listen. The flip side of maturity, as ever, is that it impairs their ability to recreate the utterly peerless youthful exuberance that made the high points of Wait... so damn high. There isn’t a riff here that makes your hair stand on end to the same extent as Scent of the Obscene from the debut did, for example. Nonetheless, their heart-string-tugging melodic punch was working as well as ever; the best track here is probably Where Do We Fall?, a genuinely endearing ballad, of sorts, with a very big chorus. And one particularly welcome innovation that was added to this album is a penchant for rather more brutal and lead guitar-orientated tech workout that could almost sound like a junior version of Odious Mortem or Origin, on Another Sinking Ship.

Sikth came very close to releasing pretty much the best British album of the decade on their debut, but their inexperience and desire to cram too much in got in the way. They released a really good second album that comes tantalisingly close to being something very special, inspiring admiration and affection in equal measure. Then they split up. Much as I love the metal purists, this is definitely not one for you, but this is a band that deserves not to be forgotten.

Killing Songs :
Another Sinking Ship, Where Do We Fall, Way Beyond the Fond Old River
Charles quoted 86 / 100
Goat quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Sikth that we have reviewed:
Sikth - The Trees are Dried Out, Wait for Something Wild ... reviewed by Cody and quoted 85 / 100
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