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November 26th, 2022

After many years of wishing for a reunion of the OG lineup and a tour from the UK progressive metal pioneers, SikTh, they had announced that for their 20th anniversary, the original members would be reuniting to play 2 shows! One in Manchester, and one in London (Camden), England! As excited as I was, not seeing a US tour was sort of a bummer.

Was I really going to be able to fly to London, for one show? Well, the short answer was YES! Luckily, I was already in Italy at the time, and it was a short and inexpensive flight to get to London. The stars had started to align.

Over the years, after having their vocalist Mikee Goodman do vocals on a song of mine back in 2008 called, “Vultures in Suits”, and then having interviewed him in Seattle, when SikTh had their first US tour in 2016 (with a change in vocalists), he and I have stayed in touch periodically. When I heard about these 20th Anniversary shows, I reached out to congratulate him and say how excited I was for all of them. I mentioned about being in Europe and that I was going to see the “art of the possible”…if I could somehow get out there and see this amazing show! Of course, since I’m a photographer, I told Mikee that it would be awesome to get to shoot the show. He let me know that if I could get there, I would be set up with a photo pass. At that point (since I knew it would sell out) the search for flights and airbnbs got very serious. I mean, I already was serious, to just be able to SEE the show, but now knowing that I would be the only photographer allowed to shoot (besides their own guy, Oli Duncanson), the honor was huge and also humbling…and I was ecstatic. Am I finally going to get to see SikTh, live?! With the OG lineup!? AND be able to shoot it?! They were such a huge inspiration to me when I was a guitarist in a Southern California progressive death metal band.

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When word got out that the band SikTh, who are arguably the forefathers of progressive metal, were going to break up back in 2008, many of us faithful SikTh fans were absolutely gutted. Especially those of us in the USA who hadn’t had the chance to see them perform live, since before they split up, they never got around to doing a US Tour.

They were the epitome of where creativity, uniqueness, and pure technical ability meet in the middle and formed Voltron…a massive, melodic, brutally heavy, wildly skilled and beautifully poetic monster of auditory amazingness. Years later, they ended up getting back together for a string of shows as well as a new EP, "Opacities,"  and a full length album, “The Future in Whose Eyes”, both of which are absolutely phenomenal. But by the time they went to write and record “The Future in Whose Eyes”, one of the original vocalists, Justin Hill, had already decided to step down from the band to pursue his career in music production (which he is still doing, and working on some amazing things). So for this last record, they tapped vocalist Joe Rosser, who was also the vocalist for SikTh guitarist Graham “Pin” Pinney’s other band, “Aliases”.

Joe can certainly hold his own in the vocal department, and I believe he was a pretty good choice to fill Justin’s shoes. That album is a phenomenal album to me, even having changed one of the vocalists. That is never an easy task in music, as people tend to grow so attached to frontmen and women. In 2016, they finally had their chance to do a tour in the US, and though I wished it would have been with the original lineup, I was just super happy to finally be able to see SikTh perform live! Not to knock Joe one bit, because he did an amazing job…but when you’re attached to a band with a certain lineup, it will always feel, well, “not 100%” when a founding member is no longer there.

Now, fast forward to 2022. The announcement of these two, very special 20th Anniversary shows with the original lineup had me extremely excited. Especially knowing just how possible it was for me to see it and photograph it! Everything lined up perfectly, and off to London I went! To be able to see this amazing band that has been a favorite of mine for SO long, in their own country/hometown area, for such a special show, was just such a highlight. Of course the show was sold out, and completely packed. So many folks with their SikTh merch on, and British accents all around, it just became even more surreal that I was there. As I stood in the photo pit waiting, with the rest of my metal head family, SikTh’s intro music began to play. As the lights dimmed, a choppy, glitched out, mash up of various SikTh vocal lines, samples, and riffs played. A smile just took over my face. Pure excitement that the time has come! After Dan Foord made his way to the drum throne, Illuminated with a backlight of solid red, as if he were a member of the Dark Side and had just come out of the Death Star, guitarist “Pin” began walking to his “stage left” side, in front of me, with his hands outstretched…and the crowd erupted. The time was here. Bassist James Leach and guitarist Dan Weller followed, and the crowd continued to roar. Then it was time for the powerhouse duo of vocalists Mikee Goodman and Justin Hill to show their faces. The show hadn’t started yet, and you could feel the energy about to explode. Everyone was so extremely happy to be here in this moment.

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They started off with “Scent of the Obscene”, one of their most popular songs from their first full length album “The Trees are Dead and Dried Out, Wait for Something Wild”. Thundering drums, the thick, slappin’ and poppin’ bass lines, and then the familiar and amazing guitar tapping and harmonies filled the venue before Mikee and Justin’s insane, back and forth vocal patterns came in, and the show was off to the races! Full of energy and amazing vibes. As soon as the chorus hit, to hear and see Justin belt those lines out, was just like a sigh of relief. It was so absolutely friggin’ cool to see the OG members on stage together, and destroying the stage! With an amazing 5K light show playing along to all of the intricacies and changes of the music, and their vocalist Mikee, jumping way up into the air, off of the stage riser on many occasions, the energy of the show never faltered. Even when the band went silent and Mikee Goodman took the spotlight and belted out his spoken word poetry “When Will the Forest Speak”, from their debut album, the entire crowd played along and screamed at the top of their lungs, all of the words of this wonderfully animated piece. (Fun fact, Mikee is so versatile with his many voices, that he also does voice acting for popular video games!). You could easily tell that this was a crowd full of the diehard SikTh fans. For me, this was one of the highlights of the show! You don’t see bands doing stuff like this, let alone the entire crowd being able to recite the poetry in its different voices, as well.

The set list was a mix of songs spanning both of their first two full length albums, as well as one song, “Philistine Philosophies”, from their “Opacities” EP. It was just a perfect set list. I wish it were longer! But that’s my selfishness, just wanting to hear more and see more from one of my favorite bands. I would have loved to hear some songs from the album “The Future in Whose Eyes”, but considering that was written and recorded after Justin Hill left, I understand why they opted not to play anything from that album. This was a celebration of who they have been as a band. And even though that album, as well as Joe Rosser, is a part of that history…it was very special to have Justin come back as a vocalist, and it only made sense to perform the songs that he was a part of in that 20 year history. When they closed out the show with what might be their biggest song, “Bland Street Bloom”, the energy was just as electric as it was at the top of the show. The crowd was extremely amped. When SikTh went into one of the sickest breakdowns you will ever hear in metal, the mosh pit opened up and it just went crazy! Flashing lights, syncopated guitar chugs, double kick patterns, and guttural screams…it was just phenomenal. I, evidently along with the rest of the venue, was so excited for this part of the song! SikTh absolutely brought the house down. I wasn’t ready for it to end!

I will say this…my fingers are crossed, hoping that this wasn’t the last we’ll see of SikTh. Everyone has things going on in their lives, which cause bands to make certain decisions. I respect all of that, and wish nothing but the best for these guys…but I am certainly hoping that this wasn’t the last time I get to see them. And what would be just as amazing, is if they decided to put out more music! If that never happens, then so be it, but at least the memories of this amazing experience, along with the photos I captured, will always be here! This was easily one of the sickest shows I’ve seen.  An unforgettable night.

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