Back in the late 80s Coventry spawned the almighty doom legends Cathedral, famous for refiguring the Black Sabbath sound for the and now, after their promising No Gods No Masters EP comes the debut of the towns newest metal innovators Sika Redem.
Entheogen marks the band’s uneasy pigeonholeing, as they carve out a route through atmospheric wastelands and thrashing hardcore terrain with a passion for crazed math and a disregard for generic classification. It’s not simply a template quiet/loud doomy post-metal sound a la Isis, Pelican or Neurosis, although there is a definite debt owed to these bands and their own experiments in both the thoughtful and extreme regions of heavy music. Songs like the epic “Mr Hunk” and “The Protagonist Fails, the Pugilist Falls” play more to these band’s styles — the latter also opening with Envy-style power chords — but the band really stand out on songs like “The Race From Hominid to Star Flight” when the spacey instrumentals are accompanied by an incessant puncturing percussion. Opener “The October Bird of Death” begins with a shock of frenzied math highlighting the key to the band’s originality — when they go heavy it’s not just chugging sludge but often fast, frenetic hardcore — the short minute-and-a-half track “Euglena” is even just pure math noise.
The guitars and bass slip easily from brooding harmonies to brutal shred and chuggery.
Each piece is crafted out over an expansive length of time, the majority of songs around the five or six minute mark with a few, like the title track and the penultimate “Stetching for the Zenith” at ten minutes or more. The bursts into noise and mentalness are exactly what the listener desires but don’t just always come when they are expected. The guitars and bass slip easily from brooding harmonies to brutal shred and chuggery. The vocals also counter their scream/growl terror in the heavy parts with a high-pitched singing in quieter sections, remaining atmospheric not overpowering and avoiding the lure of the emo fist.
Although not always straying too far from their influences, Sike Redem cleverly mix post-metal atmospherics and dynamics and chaotic metalcore noise with a clear ability. All in all Entheogen is a convincing and exiting debut release from the band, who may have even more to offer in years to come.