Tonight’s line-up is another one of those weirdly put-together bills with bands coming from various sectors of the rock and metal stratosphere. It’s show number five on this tour where SikTh are revisiting 2005’s, genre-defining Death Of A Dead Day. Such is the reverence and acclaim that the record holds, the place begins to fill slowly but surely and the buzz becomes palpable.
I arrived late to Press To MECO‘s set due to finding myself sitting backstage with SikTh discussing the best produced albums. The sound from the dressing room was massive however and to see that coming out of a three-piece was fantastic. Admittedly, I didn’t rush down as I had little real expectation for a PTM set in front of a SikTh audience. A decent crowd received them though, some certainly there for PTM.
They made themselves very well known. Playing what I recognised broadly as a fusion of pop-punk and metalcore, they oozed confidence right throughout unlike most bands at “first opener” status. Drummer Lewis Williams pummels his kit as guitarist and bassist Luke Caley and Adam Roffey (respectively) provide regular hooky, melodic passages and, less often, substantial breakdowns and technical forays. The three of them together vocally create dreamy choruses, and the riffs that drive them are solid and durable.
Most of the set came from their debut Good Intent (which conveniently sums the guys up), though the best came from the yet-to-be-released follow-up Here’s To The Fatigue. Singles “Here’s To The Fatigue” and “If All Your Parts Don’t Make A Whole” exist for the live environment. The set also showed off one particular unreleased song off the forthcoming record with a riff at the end, one of the best 30 seconds of the night, that puts other “riff-driven” bands to shame. Unexpectedly, (and it’ll be revealed later why), they ended up being the best band of the night and with their better material coming off the 2018 record, the best is certainly still yet to come.
Annoyingly, I also missed the very beginning of Devil Sold His Soul‘s performance, this time interviewing William and Lewis from PTM. They, alongside the opening act, seemed like a very odd band to book as warm-up for a crowd there for such a band as SikTh. Nevertheless, there they were.
Right from the off they displayed less out-and-out self assurance from the preceding band and the tricks they laced their tracks with were more predictable than the former group’s. Further to this, the harsh-critical side of my brain failed to recognise why a band such as theirs required two vocalists, both performing clean and harsh parts. For a large part of their show they seemed to do little for the crowd present who were likely there to see the best of SikTh’s Death Of A Dead Day.
They really came across strongest when they pushed the overtly theatrical aspects of their music to a hundred, embracing an emotional vulnerability existing in the tracks that create vast and intensely emotionally-invested soundscapes with long, drawn-out, sweeping melodies. They appear to be having the time of their lives and nothing can be taken away from them in that respect. Nevertheless, it unfortunately landed on deaf ears tonight.
The reason for that, of course, is that tonight revolves around the recital of SikTh‘s Death Of A Dead Day. There is a great deal of cult-appeal to the album and as the band come on, a wave of secular fervor ripples right to the back of the room. They open, as they have been with most of their shows in the past year, with “Philistine Philosophies” from 2015’s comeback EP Opacities.
Since the release of the EP and the groups return to playing live and writing music under the SikTh moniker, there has been a formidable outpouring of love for these godfathers of djent. Whether that’s due to the strength of the new material or the “reunion factor”, is up to debate. What isn’t open to discussion however, is the fact that the Concorde welcomed in the band with wide open arms.
All seemed to be going well as they transitioned into “The Aura” off new album The Future In Whose Eyes?, though as the first few songs progressed; dual vocalists Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser seem distracted. Something isn’t right with their in-ear monitors and when you have a band like SikTh, both densely technical and overtly abrasive, delivering precisely constructed and succinctly constructed flurries of sonic savagery, a charismatic frontman (or two in this case) is a must.
Fortunately, they have bundles of that in the two aforementioned singers though tonight they were subdued and frustrated by the technical issues. Anyone who’s seen a SikTh show before could spot a mile away that Mikee was not himself and when the band is as reliant on him as they are, to see him performing at half his capability is a big shame, even more so when it’s something completely out of their hands.
They played a few more choice cuts from their discography before moving into the second half of the show where they played the much-celebrated prog-metal staple Death Of A Dead Day in almost its entirety. The songs from DOADD were always going to go down a storm. A surprise appearance from the spoken word “Mermaid Slur” was fondly welcomed and flawlessly delivered back to Mikee by a few SikTh aficionados among us. The first few songs off the record were sublime and the likes of “Bland Street Bloom”, “Flogging The Horses” and “Way Beyond The Fond Old River” recovered for lost ground from the beginning of the show and it felt as though this was the first time tonight that the band seemed genuinely excited to be there sharing the songs with hardcore fans.
Tonight was not to be SikTh’s night though. Luck was against them and out-of-control issues reared their ugly heads again. This time it plagued drummer Dan Foord whose in-ear click track failed to work for “Summer Rain”. They took four attempts at the intro before they successfully proceeded with the rest of the track and it was almost difficult to watch. Up until that point, powerhouse would not be a strong enough word to describe Dan’s contribution to the group and it was such a misfortune to see them set back by their own gear.
By the time closer “As The Earthship Spins Round” concluded, the crowd was much thinner. It frustrates me to even write this as I have a lot of love for the band and this record in particular. I had massive hopes for this show. After seeing them at The Roundhouse earlier this year supporting Trivium and feeling the only thing that held them back was a lack of support from an apathetic crowd, seeing them primed to play a killer show with a bloodthirsty crowd, only to be riddled with technical problems throughout is more than dispiriting.
SikTh have incredible potential to play a brilliant show and deservedly so. I unfortunately have still yet to see it.
Photos by Topher O’Meagher of Watchmaker Studios