One peek at the scoreboard for today's match shows a pairing with all the makings of an excruciatingly close match. Fortunately, there is more to these contests than accumulated points.
Djenty stalwarts SikTh win the coin toss, and start the day with The Future In Whose Eyes?, an energetic and unpredictable ride of an album. The songwriting is inventive, the riffs propulsive; it's fascinating to hear how SikTh seem to retrieve and expand upon motifs and developments from progenitors of the genre they helped create. As for the playing, the collective musicianship is tighter than ever. Which brings us to the glaring weakness of the album: the vocals. The combined efforts of Mikee Goodman and Joe Rosser lead to a number of questionable choices; the occasional channeling of Korn's Jonathan Davis is bad and made worse by the at-times puerile lyrics, but Goodman's three sprechstimme pieces are worse.
Ufomammut may not have the progressive musicianship to compete with SikTh on their home turf; rather, what they've done with 8 is refine their explorations and moods. There's something both familiar yet novel to this album, even for someone who's spent time with the band's catalog. Also, while I'd never be one to laud the Italian stoner doom band's vocals in general, they're far less distracting than SikTh's. So while a relatively safe offering may hurt them later in the tournament, Ufomammut's surefootedness is enough to nudge them past the competition in this round and keep them alive for now. Let's see what happens to them three weeks from today, when they square off against Ayreon.
Join us tomorrow, as we find out whether All Pigs Must Die or Sepultura survive their first outing.