The fitting end to a stormy weekend, Sikth descend on the rain lashed cliffs of darkest Plymouth. As the rest of the town slept through Sunday evening, the despairingly few metal elite gather, along with the does-your-mother-know-you’re-out-this-late group of young teenage pre-rockers. Despite the numbers, or lack of, the metal-starved Cornish fans still look feverishly determined to make this night memorable.
Architects were playing to such a gapingly large amount of floor space, yet managed rip the place up. The screaming virtuosity being wrenched out of their two guitarists was breathtaking, and within minutes several rows of wide-eyed, dropped-jawed onlookers had converged upon the stage. Not bad for a bunch of 18-year-olds..
On impression, it looks like we are going to see seaside metal. This owes much to SikTh’s stage set-up, with the curtain frills and fringe of white light bulbs more suited to a Punch and Judy show than the devil’s music. For the uninitiated, SikTh are at once jarring and melodic, at times unbearably chaotic but ultimately fascinating. They draw influence not just from the metal world but also take cues from jazz, classical and flavours of world music.
The atmosphere is a little flat as the SikTh take to the stage, partly due to the crowd size, partly due to second support act, Dead Man In Reno, having driven everyone outside into the surrounding gardens. However, as soon as the beginning riff of Bland Street Bloom, opener of new album Death of a Dead Day, grinds through the PA, fans come running back.
Front men Mikee Goodmen and Justin Hill bounce onto the stage like a combined ball of kinetic energy and proceed to screech at, provoke, and generally summon the audience into some kind of response. All they receive for their troubles, however, is a few nodding heads.
Atmospheric tension is broken when the band tear through favourite Pussyfoot, causing the crowd to erupt into an erratic frenzy. The sheer chaotic barrage of sound screaming from the speakers is a little disconcerting for those not knowing what to expect, and there are a few puzzled faces bobbing around the hall. Nevertheless the majority of the fans seem to have been won over to the dark side.
Justin’s vocals are on particularly fine form tonight as he soars through crowd-pleaser Obscene, while a demonic looking Mikee flashes the crowd the whites of his eyes and encourages circle pit after circle pit. One of these actually takes off, with half the assemblage going mental and the other half looking slightly bemused. Less successful, is the attempted wall of death, with the crowd not quite angry enough to run full pelt into each other.
SikTh begin to let loose with the crowd now clearly on their side. Guitarist Pin smiles sanguinely as he tosses out another eye-blinkingly swift riff, while in contrast Dan Weller’s face contorts with agony, as if his guitar was trying to kill him – truly suffering for his art. Obligatory SikTh poem When Will The Forest Speak…? affords the band a well deserved break and gets an enthusiastic reception as Mikee’s guttural growl rasps down the microphone.
Metal fans now well and truly appeased, but yet still clamouring for more, SikTh climb back onstage for a note-perfect rendition of Hold My Finger. Not outstaying their welcome, the band leave with everyone wanting more. Fans begin to filter out onto the streets, safe in the knowledge that they’ve just witnessed the possible future of alternative metal, but with a tinge of regret that, if all goes to plan, SikTh will never play such a small venue again.