Live Review: SikTh w/Valis Ablaze & Exist Immortal @ Reading Sub89 21/02/2018!

In the week that saw Bristol Progressive Tech-Metallers Valis Ablaze [5/10] announce upcoming new album “Boundless” and new single “Paradox”, a show in support of SikTh should be what the Doctor ordered. The band take the stage without fanfare or any introduction and deliver a set of material that builds ever so slowly across longer track times before finally getting to the point you want it to be at much earlier, with about a minute to go. The issue is that, new song “Paradox” aside, the bands material comes across very samey in the live arena, without much, if any, tempo change. So there is nothing to get a circle pit going or heads banging until much later on in each song. There is also very little in the way of unclean vocals tonight and the net result is something that comes across as being very lacklustre. Their atmospheres may be better suited to a support slot at a bigger venue, like London’s O2 Forum but they appear to have fun with it.

West London’s Exist Immortal [6/10] take a different route with their power metal tinged progressiveness. Their guitar wizardry is matched by their bounce and verve, if it is held back by some of the clean vocals and tempo changes required to fit them in at times. “Breathe” and “Follow Alone” are obvious highlights and the band win over far more of the crowd by the end of the set than Valis Ablaze do. Guitarist Mikey G, also in A Trust Unclean stands out as being the bands main man. There is a fine line between grace an immediacy with that satisfactory guitar crunch that Exist Immortal have found and it suits them well.

Readings Sub89 may not be sold out tonight, but it is pretty damned close. SikTh [8/10] are one of those bands, who despite a lack of material and touring have been hugely influential and critically acclaimed, much like The Refused. Their return in 2014, the release of an EP (“Opacities”) and album (“The Future In Whose Eyes?”) alongside the exit of Justin Hill and arrival of replacement Joe Rosser have all worked out very well indeed for Watford’s finest. Opening with “Philistine Philosophies” before diving into “Hold My Finger” and “Pussyfoot” is a master stoke, the crowd going from a head banging fist pumping tune, straight into a circle pit. Sadly there is no “Such The Fool” in tonight’s set but one can’t have everything. Instead the band perform a career spanning set including “Bland Street Bloom”, “Flogging the Horses”, “Summer Rain” and “Where Do We Fall?” from “Death Of A Dead Day”, the album which recently had a 10 year anniversary tour run. When the band are hit by technical issues mid-set, Mikee Goodman performs spoken word “Mermaid Slur” before piling back into the action. New songs like “Golden Cufflinks” fit well alongside the older material and the band are on fine form. There is the expected dig about not being invited to perform at Reading Festival and mentions of heading off on a German tour run after tonight. The future is most certainly bright for SikTh.

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