Just before embarking on their mini EU tour including debut shows across Germany and the Netherlands Complexity Festival alongside Carnifex, The Faceless and others, djent pioneers SikTh treated UK fans to two intimate performances with Londons Exist Immortal. Firstly at Sub 89 in Reading, and secondly to my local venue and ‘NME Best Small Venue 2012’ The Forum in Tunbridge Wells. This gig marks one of many celebrating to small 250 capacity venues’ 25th anniversary celebrations, which has a reputation of giving a stage to bands before they made it big. SikTh are locally held in very high regard where they are practically legends and it was a pleasure to have them back here once again. UK alternative hardcore act Cove were announced as openers but unfortunately had to reschedule to the following Sunday – a shame for those attending as Cove perform with such an explosive veracity that they would have put on one hell of an opening performance! Despite this slight alteration to the evening, together SikTh and Exist Immortal both delivered equally passionate and energetic performances, where their two distinctive styles accentuated one another with their mix of djent and melodic verses.
As Cove were unfortunately unable to open the night, Exist Immortal were left to get the crowd going. I was eagerly speculating as to whether or not they would extend their set due to absence of Cove but unfortunately this was not the case. They took to the stage as they originally would have, a whole hour after doors opened which, despite the slight change in proceedings worked to their advantage. Drinks had been flowing and the venue had filled substantially from when I had first arrived, and the crowd were already in high spirits when Exist Immortal took to the stage. The wait was well worth it! From the outset the quintet came on with a ferocious energy. Hair was whipping with headbanging in full swing. I’d been playing their latest release ‘Breathe’ on repeat in the week before the gig so I was stoked when one of my personal favourites “In Hindsight” was played so early into their set. As soon as the hypnotising introductory sweeping riff began to play I felt a tingling run up my spine and I couldn’t contain myself from literally jumping for joy with a punch to the air. This is such a beautifully melodic song that had the whole audience fixated to a point that many looked deeply emotionally involved with the intricacy of the sweeping melodies, yet were able to go full throttle and let loose to the crunching distorted verses and polyrhythmic grooves. This song is full of such contrast with its technical ferocity and sublime sonic soundscapes, with the powerhouse that is Meyrick de la Fuente pushing vocals as powerfully evocative clean as crushing.
“Get the f**k right here!” shouted Fuente enticing the crowd to come closer. “Breathe” was the perfect song to really give a taste of the equilibrium of extremes that Exist Immortal can achieve. Equally as heavy as it is light in dynamic, this song felt immensely powerful within such a small venue with David Billotes bass pounding through the floor, right through to your chest. The thunderous breakdown with roaring vocals gave off a huge energy that was reciprocated by the audience that were by this point fighting for room at the very front of the stage. Each of the guitarists were clearly having a great time with all 3 headbanging and throwing their hair around. By the end of the track the crowd were clapping along with arms held high in time to the tapping and the atmosphere was beautiful – it was a touching moment, making us all unified together in the music.“Make some f**king noise!” The closer was certainly a highlight with vocalist Fuente calling for a wall of death in an area that is certainly no wider than 20ft across. The pit may have been small compared to most venues but the passion was certainly not amiss. “Follow Alone” may have begun a little slower than a majority of the crowd were expecting, but the song quickly built and built to a climatic chorus with the pace continuing to grow. The solo near closing played by Alex Gee was a highlight with him taking centre stage and appeared encapsulated by the moment with his mixture of entertaining facial expressions. One fan later ran straight through the pit to the front of the stage and was embraced by the frontman Fuente, another pleasant moment to witness.
“This is our first time in Tunbridge Wells! Thanks for making us so welcome”. All round smiles filled the room with arms and horns in the air and an eruptive cheer on closing. I should at this point apologise for the lack of set-list, after 3 songs I put my camera away and I was so wholly captivated by their performance that time and space disappeared, the music literally took over. Seeing Exist Immortal live gives another level to their deeply emotive and beautifully captivating music. They do what not many others can in creating music that feels so natural yet projects a high level of musicianship and technicality.
Since their reformation in 2014 SikTh have headlined at Download, Kathmandu and Mumbai’s ‘Big 69’ festival, and more recently played stunning sets at ArcTanGent and Brutal Assualt. This show marked their return to Tunbridge Wells’ Forum since playing here on their debut UK tour way back in 2001. It was an emotional performance for fans that have closely followed their career since the beginning, but it was also great to see so much young blood in the audience that were ecstatic during the experience.
SikTh took a surprise stance and opened with “Philistine Philosophies” rather than the usual fan favourite “Bland Street Bloom” which was well received by the crowd. Vocalist Mikee W Goodman was the last member to enter and quickly bounded to the front of the stage, gesturing to the crowd with arms outstretched. His determination was clear and the crowd responded by pushing even closer to the front – before the set had even begun fans had already squeezed themselves into the small space to be within touching distance of the band! The energy on and off stage really exploded when “The Aura” began, especially with guitarist Dan Weller who relished in the beautiful chaos. The song itself has such a huge dynamic melodically with vocalists Joe Rosser and Goodman bouncing off of one another with their distinctive styles, to a chorus that is so easily memorable and sublime. On ending one guy in the crowd who was completely into the music started throwing beer over himself and anyone in close proximity, to which Goodman exclaimed “What is this? This is the strangest sh*t!” The whole night was pretty insane with possibly the smallest circle pits in the world, the crowd going absolutely nuts with jokes shouted at every opportunity – from fans mocking “Play Wonderwall”, to the band later teasing Metallicas “Master Of Puppets” and having many a joke onstage.
However, as the set continued to unfold it became very clear that despite the tour poster featuring imagery from 2016s phenomenal album ‘The Future In Whose Eyes?’, the majority of the set focused heavily on the bands popular 2006 record ‘Death Of A Dead Day’ with the latter part solely featuring songs played back to back – they very nearly relived their fantastic set at Londons Koko where DOADD was played in its entirety! Fans were completely immersed singing along and moshing heavily especially to “Bland Street Bloom” and “Flogging The Horses”, to which both vocalists were thrashing about the small stage with Rosser taking on a more proactive approach whilst Goodman often appeared in a trance like state.
“We’ve got 3 more songs for you. Make some noise for yourselves!” Despite everyone looking exhausted at this point in the set, the band and audience continued to give it their all through to the very end. Even after the whole set had finished, fans were still calling out requests which the band had to unfortunately decline. The set was completely as bizarre and fantastic as the music SikTh produces which left everyone with a natural high that will definitely be hard to beat!
Hold My Finger
Skies Of Millenium Light
Bland St Bloom
Flogging The Horses
Way Beyond The Fond Old River
Part Of The Friction
When The Moments Gone
Where Do We Fall?
As The Earth Spins Round