SikTh, Hacktivist & Destrage @ Academy 3
Stephen Hawking, adding his learned opinion into the debate on the possibility of the existence of time travel, which has raged on for a long, long time now – fuelled even more by books, films and creative imaginations taking on the concept with gay abandon – states that, if time travel were possible then it’s existence would be proved by what he calls time tourists. His point, in layman’s terms, is that, if people could travel in time, then people would be travelling back to our present day all the time. Indeed, there are several arguments against this; for a start, who’d come to 2015, it’s shit and secondly, if you’ve seen The Butterfly Effect then you’ll know that doing so can cause all we know to be torn to shreds by the proverbial fan.
I however, not a learned man by any means I must confess, would like to argue that there are time tourists amongst us. For, when SikTh’s debut album, 2003’s The Trees Are Dead & Dried Out Wait for Something Wild was released, there is no other way that they could have been so far ahead of the curve, so ahead of their time that they must have indeed been a part of a future generation. That record, along with Death Of A Dead Day three years later laid the cornerstones for the djent movement; a movement which exploded like fireworks on bonfire night after the band’s unfortunate demise in 2008. Periphery, TesseracT, Animals As Leaders and countless other acts owe so much to these innovators. These in vogue bands wouldn't exist had SikTh not done it all so far before them and so last year’s surprise reformation saw them crowned as kings atop an empire created in their memory.
Djent now thrives and with new EP Opacities, SikTh have proved just why they are the masters of their craft. Here in front of a packed and raucous Academy 3, they produced a performance that didn't so much as go off the chain as it did leave the thing as nothing but molten ash.
Italian madmen Destrage were tasked with getting the fire started on their first ever UK tour, following on from three one off shows which include Tech Fest and Bloodstock. Latest album Are You Kidding Me, No? is a total siege of musicality which pushes the boundaries of how to be scintillating crazy and invariably fun. In the flesh, that record couldn't be any better. Sound issues are ironed out within the first song, with Purina and My Green Neighbour getting the crowd in full voice from those whose jaws hadn't hit the floor. The magic is in the intricacies of their music and of which there are a plethora. Their songs are, at their core, simple, contagious and quixotically ludicrous, but they spiral off every which way in a way that staggers and enthrals.
It’s no secret that I love this band and each member proves ridiculously talented. Drummer Federico Paulovich is like an octopus on speed, creating a chaotic backbone for the dual attack of guitars and vocalist Paolo Colavolpe to croon, scream and growl over the top of it all. By set closer Jade’s Place the place is bouncing front to back, half the room has a new favourite band and Destrage walk off stage to thunderous applause.
Hacktivist follow suit, trying to stoke what is already a blazing fire. The first thing I have to say is that I’m not overly fond of their music, I’ve never really gotten on board with rap in any shape of form, it just doesn’t seem to agree with me, but what’s important is that the Milton Keynes band are carving out a real name for themselves by doing some very different. I may not call myself a fan of the band, but I certainly have a huge amount of admiration and respect for what they are doing and their set is highly enjoyable.
The regurgitating, rapturous 8-string grooves that underpin each track are heavy as hell and they manage to mutate them with impassioned and venomous rap more than convincingly. You have to admire them for it. They end with a ‘fuck you’ to the bombings in Syria and war in general. The room warms with passion and power, they strike a chord with aplomb.
SikTh then. Even with their sound at times muddy, the talent and energy that they release into the room is immovable. Telluric drum beats provide a chaotic, grooving foundation for a complete guitar playing masterclass, while both vocals spar with rasping screams and soaring choruses magnificently. New track Philistine Philosophies, with its trademark grinding riff work and snarling vocal delivery which slithers with menace makes a perfect addition to the bands arsenal and it crowns a return to the foray which has been so eagerly awaited.
Scent of the Obscene begins akin to Rage Against The Machine post-metal breakdown before unravelling into a kaleidoscope of chugged notes, mind bending runs and time signature contorting surrealism; its chorus unfathomably catchy and fun. When Will The Forest Speak…? is like a Shakaspeare soliloquy come nightmare and throughout Mikee Goodman has the crowd in the palm of his hand and the joy the back and forth with his audience creates is enlightening.
In all, it just feels like you’re witnessing something special. The gravity of their stage presence and the anarchy in which they fire out their against the grain songwriting is almost otherworldly. As the ying yang of Bland Street Boom’s crazed, off-shooting dynamism and lofty, melodious and lucid passages dies down and the band leaves the stage, no one is left unsatisfied.
Words: Phil Weller | Photos: Wendy Keogh