If Watford metallers SikTh set out to create the most disobedient, original debut to come from British shores for years, then they may have just succeeded. The Trees Are Dead And Dried Out, Wait For Something Wild is an hour of true musical craftsmanship. Technically astute, with skillfully fashioned songs and an unrivalled instrumental intensity, SikTh stick out like a diamond in the rough among the majority of British extreme metal acts.
Produced and mixed by Colin Richardson (Machine Head, Cradle Of Filth), The Trees Are Dead… is an unpredictable, magnificently executed album which refuses to be labelled. Grindcore one minute and prog rock the next, SikTh are masters of unpredictability, whilst being able to make every note sound perfectly in place.
Skies Of Millennium Night is the perfect opener from this seemingly schizophrenic band from it’s first slaps of funked up, Flea-style bass, backed by unbelievably intricate percussion, to the sudden influx of discordant technical riffage that would cause any Finnish black metal band to sit up and listen. Yet, two minutes later we have already experienced an anthemic chorus, which then mutates into a swirling chaotic bridge, drenched in distorted harmonics and crashing cymbals, before spiralling back (at neckbreaking speed) into vocalist, Justin Hill’s melodic refrain.
Songs such as live favourite Hold My Finger put them squarely in the nu-metal camp, with System Of A Down an obvious influence. However, a further three tracks into the album, we are treated to a metallic ballad, dominated by softer lamenting vocals, amidst a storm of raw guitar. At around the half way point, the Nick Drake cover, Tupelo, runs well past the seven minute mark, and is a further opportunity for the band to pay tribute to another influence, while effectively displaying their diverse musical ability. Perhaps the most unique exhibit is saved for last – a spoken word piece entitled How May I Help You? that is both disturbing yet intriguingly brilliant, so totally weird, yet full of poetic splendour.
It simply shouldn’t work as well as it does. There are far too many contradictions on this album. Guttural throaty vocals mixed with harmonised melodies, viciously rhythmic drumming which instantly metamorphosises into elaborate percussion, and haunting atmospheric piano interludes which sit superbly between slices of metal brutality. The band should be applauded not only for crafting such an intelligent debut, but for having the balls to be so confidently diverse.
It is virtually unheard of for new bands to be so open and noncomforming to a specific sound or genre, whilst being able to maintain their musical integrity. SikTh have done exactly that, and so made a first class contribution to the British metal scene.