Rah rah rubbish
More press release shenanigans describe Sika Redem as "Thinking man's rock being taken into a totally new dimension."
There are a few clichés in the rock press that really make my teeth grind, one of them is the ill used 'Return to form,' another is 'The new wave of ...' whenever a critic happens to like an album of a genre they don't normally listen to. But 'Thinking man's rock' is another one of those phrases that puckers up the sphincter so tightly it takes forty minutes of sitting in a hot bath to calm it down. It's an insult because not only is it sexist but also it suggests that if you don't like such a band then you're an idiot and only 'men' on a higher intellectual plain will like this form of music. What 'Thinking mans rock' is, is a pathetic label used by un-imaginative critics who come across a type of music they can't put into their handy little genre jam jars.
Sika Redem are as far from the three-minute rock song fraternity as you can get whilst staying in the realms of rock itself. 'Entheogen' is a spaced out album probably written by Sika Redem after two continuous days on some form of illegal substance. The opening ten-minute epic 'The October Bird of Death' (I assume this is the opener and I apologise to Sika Redem if I'm incorrect, but have a chat with your PR people about adding a track listing next time) is chaotic as it is tuneless, often treading on the toes of the Mars Volta but lacking that extra melody. It doesn't have any particular direction but it contains some hypnotising sections. They sound pleasant and quite trippy without being anything definitive. It's indicative of the album as a whole because the song is quite challenging and yet subtle at times.
The album is brimming with great little ideas, whether they are thrashing it out like controlled lunatics or haunting us with dark, progressive and quite psychedelic passages. Luke McCusker's drumming is busy, almost funky and allows some of the more drawn out sections to have a little more life. 'Entheogen' excels on its quieter ideas when guitarists Stein Fletcher and Lewis Roden can really turn up the knob on those delay and reverb pedals (or FX units, whatever your set up is). The chaotic, heavier Sikth style ideas just become an annoyance after a while because they're tuneless and very much pointless to the songs as a whole. You end up waiting for them to finish so they can get on with the infinitely better subtle ideas. The production is far from hard hitting but it seems tailor made for the quieter sections, which could be the reason why these work so much better than the heavier moments.
Even though the songs are jumbled, lacking in direction and devoid of any main idea or theme, they are very listenable except for when vocalist 'Tommy J' opens his jaws. If there ever was an album where one person killed it stone dead it would be 'Entheogen.' The vocals are truly awful, I cannot describe how irritating, unnecessary and tuneless they are. Take a one scream screamo and ask him to sing flat and out of tune on the quiet bits and you'll get something close to 'Tommy J.' Why do bands do this? Create some wonderful mood music and then ruin the whole thing by having a man who sounds like he's being tortured, impaled and garrotted all at the same time. It's like taking the most beautiful woman in the world and giving her a beard and tufts of nose hair. Stop it please!! I implore you.
Sika Redem have produced an album that is deeply frustrating. With Tommy J's vocals the album is practically unlistenable except to those mad few who like this torturous scream style of singing. But then again with the style of the music and it's blatant non-conformity suggest that success, fame and wealth is not on their minds, they're only doing what comes naturally, and you can't blame anyone for that. It's just a pity that it with the screamo element Sika Redem are an annoying noise with some good parts, which perhaps sums up 'Entheogen' quite well.