Reviews Coming Soon

Album Review: TBA

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Album Review: Skyharbor – Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos

For a landmass as vast as India, a country with over 1 billion people living in it, the number of times you come across one of their metal bands isn’t all that often but there is now a rapidly-growing scene. The furore surrounding New Delhi’s is indication that the world stage is primed and ready for the floodgates to open. Why have been one of their breakthrough acts isn’t clear, but their global sound and the fact they have sunk their teeth into such a vogue genre must be factors.

Nailing a worldwide release for their double-disc debut album, Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos, can’t have been the smoothest of rides (“four years of epiphanies and disappointments” according to brainchild/guitarist Keshav Dar) but it’s easy to see how they got there in the end when you see which label they are gracing (Basick) or cast your eyes down the number of international guest appearances. Also bear in mind that these contributions are from guys who offered their help, not vice-versa. Guys like ex- vocalist Dan Tompkins, whose pin-point tone is so obviously the key to the door-lock and consequently ends up singing on 80% of the album, and guys like ex- axeman Marty Friedman who contributes to two tracks.

The majority of the content is made up by the Illusion disc and, honestly, it’s a delight to finally hear a modern progressive metal record that is happy to dip its toes in the waters of djent, but doesn’t feel the need to obstruct the flow of the songs with incessant levels of palm-muted hammering or flood you with wave upon wave of ambient wash. The band has allowed for a very organic writing process. Left unencumbered by heavy-handedness or complex mathematics the natural rhythms are left to flow and create instantly recognisable patterns. The production has followed suit and swapped hard, angular tones for a softened, more emotive backline that has put the vocal upfront and undominated. “Dots” is a straight-up joy, “Catharsis” is a brilliantly-layered puzzle with an undemanding solution, and “Celestial” burns with unambiguous, anthemic ambition (listen out for Friedman’s blistered, falling riff and ’s Vishal J. Singh’s quixotic solo).

Any pent up anger that comes from holding back their instincts is released within the howling confines of Chaos. The band rip into the music with vigour, winding up the pace of their attack and rolling around in distortion and syncopation like pigs in muck. Sunneith Ravankar () is let loose to roar almost continuously through “Trayus” and “Aphasia”, but it is the split-personalities of “Insurrection” which invigorate the most as, like a spinning compass, the befuddling rhythm finally settles on a direction, both in its more turbulent and calmer guises. Throughout Chaos you get the sense that the heart of the album is still there, latent in the background, desperately fighting to burst through the surface as and when it can. And yet I am left with mixed-feelings about this segue into crushing heaviness. There are several bands who have mastered this kind of polyrhythmic, invasive bedlam already, so whilst it provides a deathly foil for the life-giving properties of it’s sister disc, to some extent it feels a little like the band are laying out their abilities to merely impress; an over-exaggerated evil, perhaps?

Illusion is far more beguiling and there is one particular work of art that sums up everything that is brilliant about Blinding White Noise. With intertwined rough and smooth layering pouring like colors out of “Maeva”, it’s a composition that, whilst forming just one more mountain top in a rolling range of peaks, is a piece of music that seems to transcend faceless labels. You simply couldn’t get away with calling it a “track” or a “song” without doing it an injustice, so I haven’t. At its core lies a series of spine-tingling change-ups that provide the platform for Tompkins to soak us in gloriously sweet emotion. His magnificent tone and eloquent words seem such a fitting place to end this review, so I’ll hand you over to him… “It’s so damn hard to let go / But take a chance / And survive, come together, embrace life / This is India!”

Also online @ The NewReview
Post a Comment