Skyharbor is indication that the world stage is primed and ready for the floodgates to open. Why Skyharbor 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-TesseracT vocalist Dan Tompkins, whose pin-point tone is so obviously the key to the Skyharbor door-lock and consequently ends up singing on 80% of the album, and guys like ex-Megadeth 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 Amogh Symphony’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 (Bhayanak Maut)
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
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