Album Review: SikTh – The Future In Whose Eyes?

SikTh
The Future In Whose Eyes?
(Millennium Night)

In the pantheon of modern progressive metal, Meshuggah may hold the crown, and deservedly so. However, SikTh may be one of the most innovative yet underappreciated among the greats. The UK group had an incredible run of two records in the last decade that proved the point that mind-meltingly experimental and technical tunes could also be ridiculously catchy. For all the math needed to write the music, the band’s music was often defined by its memorable riffs and surprisingly catchy hooks. Take a look at Periphery and Animals As Leaders; while the guitar tone and stomp are all Meshuggah, the dazzling melodies and fret magic were hallmarks of SikTh. So, after a dearth of disciples have been dispatched during their ten-year absence, what do we make of the band’s 11-year gap for album number three?

Well, while The Future In Whose Eyes? may not be SikTh’s most innovative work, it’s certainly their most consistently enjoyable and sees the band expanding and experimenting with their sound in a number of fantastic ways. Periphery’s Adam “Nolly” Getgood assisted on the production, and his bass-heavy sound works wonders on the mix. That underlying groove that was often overshadowed by the dazzling musicianship on past records now comes to the forefront. The riffs here are the band’s best yet, in part because the songs feel a teeny bit less haphazard. This is delightfully technical music (see “Riddles of Humanity” and “Ride the Illusion” in particular), but taking a nice step up from their past, the musical insanity feels even more grounded in groove and melody. Look at “Century of the Narcissist” for a song that almost hides its complexity to revel in that delicious, hip-shaking groove. Sure, it will certainly take a couple spins for the listener to catch all that’s going on (and this is an all-time great in terms of replayability), but once you figure the songs out, they don’t lose their luster in the slightest. Instead, it becomes even easier to appreciate how carefully crafted The Future In Whose Eyes? actually is. “Century of the Narcissist” may go down as one of the catchiest prog songs in recent memory.

The newly formed vocal duo works wonders together. Mikee Goodman’s twenty personalities still find themselves bursting out at random moments; he truly does sound like a man possessed. He sounds both reigned in and more chaotic than past works. Part of that is because newly recruited vocalist Joe Rosser’s voice slides in perfectly in tandem; his more tradition screams and soaring clean vocals are a treat and help ground Goodman’s spastic personality. Sure, Goodman’s vocals often veer into nu-metal tendencies, but it works really well with the complexity of the music. The only issue here, and it’s the only issue with an otherwise incredible album, is that Goodman’s post-apocalyptic spoken word interludes are, by now, expected and disrupt the flow of the record. Maybe the first couple are fine, but by the third instance, they feel tacked on and inconsequential.

By emphasizing their strengths as songwriters and allowing the underlying groove and melody to take a more central stage, SikTh have written a truly stunning record. Their two previous records are often lauded as progressive metal classics, so it feels like being a prisoner of the moment to compare them, but The Future In Whose Eyes? is, at the very least, as exemplary as SikTh’s past work. In a time when so many great bands of old are coming back to show they still have some life left in them, SikTh have produced an incredible comeback record, filled with their most engaging and memorable material. The masters clearly still have some tricks up their sleeve.

Purchase the album here.

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