If you know who Sikth are then you have either accepted, or should accept, that you are a music nerd.
Sikth isn’t the metal you’ll hear on alternative rock radio stations, or just casually stumble upon.
You found Sikth by actively searching for your latest fixing of djent, or your fellow nerdy metal friends told you to listen to them (or at least that’s what happened with me).
Well on a cold December night, these metal nerds gather in The Bowery, just on the outskirts of Dublin city centre, to get their live fix of Sikth’s inhumanly tight brand of technical metal.
The first support band on the bill are local groove metallers, Dead Label, who have made one hell of a name for themselves recently by touring with Fear Factory, and playing metal festivals all over Europe, and the buzz has turned into their local fans and curious punters starting to fill The Bowery before they even start.
Dead Label are a great example of a power trio in the heavier side of music.
With just a single guitar, bass, and drums, they create a punchy live sound.
Sonically all their instruments sit well with each other like an audio puzzle, but most importantly, the punch in their music comes from knowing how to best work with each other.
The rhythm section know exactly when is the best place to draw back, and let the guitar take the lead, or when it all needs to roll back slightly to let their demonically intense vocalist take hold, making it all the more powerful when they all kick in together.
7.5 Tonnes Of Beard
Up next are Belfast’s 7.5 Tonnes of Beard. While a bit let down by the lack of ZZ Top levels of beard (With 2 of the 5 members having only mild stubble I wonder how the band has avoided false advertising claims), their sound did have a few tonnes of weight to it.
Their music style could best be described as pure dirt.
Full of slow, doomy riffs, with each beat feeling like the sound wave was attempting to push you back. The vocals sounded anguished, like a scream therapy session for their singer, rather than a performance to entertain.
What immediately struck me was how the performance was not just a band playing a collection of their songs to an audience, this was a band creating a sonic experience filled with low tuned guitars rumbling through the audience, and heavy reverb on the vocals and lead guitar surrounding the listener.
7.5 Tonnes of Beard felt like a very inward performance. This was not a band playing songs to entertain the audience, this was a personal musical expression by the band, which the audience could look upon as outsiders.
If Sunn O))) made a stoner doom band, it would be 7.5 Tonnes of Beard. (Their members still need more beard though).
After the support bands clear all their gear out of the way, Sikth begin their set to a huge crowd all eagerly awaiting for them.
The stage is a bit strange, with The Bowery’s being a pirate ship (No, I’m not making this up. It wasn’t subtle either, the stage is quite…. Yaaaarge. Sorry for the pun, couldn’t resist), the instrumentalists take the top tier, while Sikth’s two vocalists are up front on the lower tier, on the edge of the stage, performing mere inches away from their fans and the mosh pits.
Sikth’s sound is chaotic, violent, and fill of unexpected twists and turns.
They’re one of the forefathers of the djent scene (With bands like Periphery citing them as an influence), so anything less than inhuman levels of musical tightness and tribal riffs would be a let down.
Thankfully, the band display just that, with both guitarists tapping on the fretboard so much it becomes second nature to them, and the rhythm section adding a tribal groove that removes any restraint the audience has at that point, and creating some hefty mosh pits.
Both vocalists in Sikth have created a brilliant trade off between each other.
While Joe Rosser is only in his 2nd year with the band, him and original vocalist Mikee Goodman know exactly when they are needed, who needs to take the forefront, and how to best compliment each other. Both were filled with energy, not leaving much space between themselves and the crowd, and showing off a very cool “To me, to you” vocal style, with both utilizing screams and clean vocals.
It is commendable how the band has managed to maintain their energy levels over 90 minutes, let alone commit 90 minutes worth of technical metal to memory. There was no point in the show where it felt like they were just eating up time, or taking a rest for their own sake, just 90 minutes of mind numbing musical madness.
The crowd enjoyed every second of Sikth’s show, although the crowd seemed a bit more curious about Dead Label and 7.5 Tonnes of Beard, as I’m not sure if a groove metal and stoner doom band were really suited for a show supporting a Technical metal band, although both still put on great sets.
– Cormac Jordan ::: 20/12/17