Retro Roundtable Review: SikTh – The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait For Something Wild
Label: Gut Records
Release Date: August 18, 2003
Tracks: 14, 1 hour
Genre: Weird Progressive metal / Tech / Mathcore
Studio Albums: Let The Transmitting Begin EP 2002, Death of A Dead Day 2006
Location: Watford, UK
WarpRider – I kept seeing this band’s name float around out there and never took the opportunity to check them out. I never realized they are credited, in large part, for the djent movement. Though it isn’t a particular style or genre I gravitated to over the years, I like the way SikTh does it. In part, they remind me of Incubus and some of Alien Ant Farm among other similar bands rolled up into one. Musically, this is solid. I haven’t had much time to truly absorb the lyrics, but from what I gather I should pay special attention to what they say. This is a keeper and if you are like me and never heard the band, they are worth exploration.
Atleastimhousebroken – I’ve known about Sikth for a bit now, but outside a couple tunes, never really dug into them. I think that was a bit of a mistake, this is some bat-shit-insane stuff right here, I freaking love it. Most in part due to the vocals. That guy behind the mic is a goddamn madman and his energy adds so much to the music. He attacks with a voracity that reminds me of a young Mike Patton (especially during the earlier Mr. Bungle years). The instruments side of things also hold up just as well with the odd-timed rhythms perfectly complementing the loose screws of the vocals. And dat bass! I’ve always said there needs to be more funk bass in metal, and this gives me plenty of it.
I know this band often gets credited as being an archetype of djent, but I don’t really hear it. If more djent sounded like this, I may actually like the genre a bit more. So, if you’ve been avoiding this band based on that, you may want to take another stab because, in my opinion, djent this is not. This is fucking insane-o-metal that has some percussive and odd timed music from time to time.
Irmelinis – “There’s a fine line between genius and insanity” – It shouldn’t work, but it does. Exceptionally well, too. With no boundaries, larger than average balls and musical confidence the guys in SikTh go for an exhilarating, funky style of music that does not conform to any rules or genres. They have two fantastic vocalists who complement each other in many ways as they tirelessly and with unmatched intensity interact throughout the album, in high pitched verse, poetic reading and anthem-like choruses. The singing takes up lots of space in the songs, but the technical unpredictability and brilliant instrumental arrangements can’t be ignored and are quite challenging to listen to. Don’t give up, I know what it feels like. Just when a song seems to go nowhere and the screaming chaos gets too much, it quickly turns around and belts out another face-melting melody that draws you back in. The variation during the album is huge, there’s everything from hardcore and noise to nu metal and piano interludes. Even a cover of a Nick Cave song. I love SikTh for their lunatic poetry, for how they make me laugh and feel a little bit more crazy than usual.
“Here’s all the theory on prog metal we’ve researched and collected in the last five years. Open the window.”
“Yes… see how all the theory flutters on the breeze – you can’t tell where any individual sheet is going, yet it’s obeying a deep, underlying principle that creates a pattern for everything as a whole.”
“Right, chaos theory. That’s what we’re going to set to music. Of course the music itself has to seem even more chaotic than the theory until you experience it all as a composite entity.”
“Exactly. If you plant an acorn you can’t possibly know how every twig and leaf will grow, but you can expect that a majestic tree will rise, filling people with awe at its splendour.”
“A fortune teller told me we would be entering uncharted territory. She said it was a great risk to go there, and we’d be safer doing everything in 3/4 time. I kept a straight face. Then she added that we would come to be seen as pioneers of a new sound called djent.”
“You mean gent, surely. Your spelling was never great.”
“No, djent. Conventional spelling is so predictable.”
“We don’t want to be pioneers, do we? I think we’re just going to be adventurers travelling together down a musical road, running off the into the forest, making everyone think we’ve got lost, and then suddenly returning to our road again, striding forward in unison.”
“Yes, that’s how I see it. We’ll go back into the unexplored forest every time we feel like a new adventure.”
“So, it’s agreed. We’re going to gather chaos and build it into a grand, coherent… thing. It will be so grand that chaos thieves while try to steal it from us in the forest.”
“Not that it matters, but what do you reckon people will think of this music in another decade or so?”
This is what I think of The Trees Are Dead: If we gave scores in retro reviews, I’d rate it 11/5. I imagine that’s one of the time signatures SikTh used on the album.
A Metal State of Mind Score – N/A