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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Skyharbor - Blinding White Noise : Illusion & Chaos review

Year : 2012
Genre : Emo Djent Shoegaze
Label : Basick Records
Origin : India / United Kingdom / United States
Rating : 7.5 / 10 (score evolved from 4.5 / 10)

This review has been opinion-hacked by a commenter below. You need to read the review AND the comments to get a full picture of this beneficial evolution.

There is nothing chaotic or blindingly white noisy about Skyharbor's Blinding White Noise : Illusion & Chaos LP. This shocking emo djent shoegaze contribution - which wants you to believe that it also is a legit progressive metal album, but suffers legendarily far from that point, as I will attempt to justify - is the result of a collaboration between various illustrious artists, - ex-Megadeth Marty Friedman, ex-Tesseract vocalist Dan Tompkins among others - but, one must suspect that the primordial contributors have underwent a creative process in which the protocol was to be blown away on spot by the artistic aptness and related skillset of every fellow musician or producer in the vicinity, no matter how and what went down during the music invocation procedure.

This record, for 75% of its playtime, sounds like a tepid collection of b-side entries of an unreleased Phil Collins popmetal LP, with badly exploited computer-djenting seeking to convey a sense of fresh trendiness in the background with a foul intent of mimicking - synonym : lying - legit musical complexity. The problem is, that the djenting, and the alleged complexity has no form, has no face, lacks TRUE CHARACTER on this release, and its key attribute becomes not rhythmic entertainment, but rhythmic torment. Exceptions are very few and far between. The rabid djenting in the mid-section of track 6 "Celestial" is delicious, but this is the top form I could find the mellower part of the record in. I'll elaborate on this later. In an attempt to assure you that I'm not just having a troll-seizure, being incapable to say a good thing about the djent subgenre which I honestly love, here is a slick, muscular little djent death hybrid release I recently reviewed and found utterly enjoyable. Check this djentchick djenting.

On THIS release though, the djenting is so badly exploited, so heartlessly humiliated, and so obviously and obnoxiously computer generated, that it not just borders on the laughable, but sports the door hinges as nipples upon arrival.

The bread-region of the data operates on this vague, emo-sounding pop metal/pseudo-progressive metal field, but the "mere" integrity of the music, in my opinion never reaches the identifiable character of compositional thought and related maturity. You have very simplistic, prolonged melodic passages of an alternative metal character, supported by pretty taste-lacking copy paste djent samples. An almost utter lack of melodic seriousness, ripeness is on display, along with an almost continuous flow of attempts to conceal these profound deficits. The record does not sound bad, mind you. It just sounds cheap. I can not wholeheartedly give this LP the label "progressive metal". Nor math metal. Naaah. In Dan Tompkins' -ex-Tesseract - mind, it IS progressive metal, because he delivers the same powerless sighs at every last whiny syllable of the sung lines a la Dream Theater's James LaBrie, "- you know I need yaueahhuuuuhhhhh...." - but it is more annoying than impressive, in my opinion. It must be pointed out though that Dan Tompkins has a tremendous set of lungs nevertheless, as he sometimes decides to sing on his extreme capacities on the record, and daaaayumn, that sounds good! The track called "Aurora" packs some top of the heat clean singing with epic belts in its climax section, and I would score this release well above 9 if I'd found on it stimuli of the same caliber throughout, but this is not the case. Simply put, this mostly is a gloomy alternative metal mess with djent and emo affectations, and a pretty shameless kind of those, too. Read on to find out more about the nature of this spin.

Granted, the delivery is divided into two narrative sections, - Illusion and Chaos - yet, only the last three tracks that belong to the Chaos section summon relative redeeming values compared to the preceding sonic region of MSED - massively shoegazer emo djenting, - which is encompassing more than 30 minutes of the 47 minutes the album lasts for. These redeeming values are summoning more intense rhetorics, bringing the record's short top form as a groove / death hybrid of nice variation and complexity. THAT 12 minutes of the album are legit without doubt. But the vast majority of the stimuli, in my opinion, is pretty insulting data as a commercial contribution. It seeks to give you the music Ceterum gave, only, this data seeks to offer lies about that exact same kind of music, and necessarily fails to summon it, using false and/or cheap musical assumptions in trying to accomplish the same effect without giving the aspired effects its inescapable dues. Whereas odd time signatures and poly-rhythms would be true gems and ear-candies to behold, you get nothing beyond standard 4/4 alibi pop metal, "spiced up" in a deceitful addition of computer-sample djenting that exhibits no true character other than the limited charm of scattered, computerized randomness. As noted earlier, ex-TesseracT-er Dan Thompkins can ride on epic notes he belts out from out of nowhere, but the release features a vastly limited set of intense clean singing, with which it looks the best with.

Track number 7, called "Maeva", - which also is the concluding track of the Illusion section - is the only one I think is a truly successful entry in the majority section, with a tender quality and a nice hook for chorus. Beside the awesome vocal and harmonic climax of "Aurora", the only secondary islands of solace the release is capable to offer when flatting around in tepid agony, are brief solo guitar contributions here and there, moments by which Marty Friedman - ex-Megadeth - showcases his most recent fascinations on yet another set of exotic scales. The solos are OK, yes, - nothing that rewires my mind though - but their surroundings remain pale reminders of what this music probably sought to be before its creators decided to (mimick to) get satisfied with the act of establishing second-tier compositional efforts and shameless/weightless production wizardry - conceptionless copy-paste djenting - as its defining "values". The clean vocal delivery is particularly annoying, - the screams are legit in the latter section - though I must confess if you force me to choose between death by napalm and James LaBrie's emotional singing, I pick death by napalm anytime. Saved for its superb climax lasting for 12 minutes, a pretty enervated record.

Rating : 4.5 / 10

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  1. I think you are misjudging this album and probably didn't even give it a fair chance to begin with. So much poison and wrong observations/ comparisons. Sounds like your frustration and hatred blocked your ears.

  2. This review has very mild poison dosage compared to what I can bring if I feel there is need to. I never harm anything for the mere "fun" of it.

    "Wrong observation/comparisons"?

    Give examples or please don't hand out accusations.

    "Frustration, hatred"?

    Why bring such extreme words into this? I don't hate anything or anyone. You do?

    I gave the album multiple listens and still claim that it weighs in as bantamweight for about 70% of what it is, but I honestly glad if you like it. Note : I admit in the review that the disc has a far more mature and solid second portion, but the section with the past TesseracT guy?


    This music still sounds to me as a bantamweight, enervated toy-ripoff of Meshuggah with an emo affection, designed to make the non-cultivated or the extremely good willed ear believe that it is being subjected to transcendental sonic exquisitries. Why would I want to refrain from my personal impression that the disc is the exploitation of the djent and Meshuggah ethos?

    My related subjective reality still is that it is c-grade toy-djent-emo-ass music - and then I'm very kind to it - with decent production values and CPU power. This is a vastly inferior and much less serious version of the music Ceterum created with Fathom, I think. I do not criticize this release negatively solely for the reason that it has a tamer tone in the beginning. I simply think its tamer tone does not touch the switches. Except for the solid, shorter second portion in the more brisk and aggressive segment, as I admit without hesitation.

    Thank you for your notions.

  3. I have listened to the album again and I feel ashamed that I missed Dan Thompkin's spectacular singing at the climax of Aurora. Top of the heat lungs, no doubt, and I adjusted the review accordingly. I still feel the release is much too tepid even for its own character though, - in the first, major section - but Aurora is a definite highlight. (Beside Maeva.)

  4. First of all, thanks for the detailed reply and for going back to the album. It shows me you take what you do seriously. I respect what you say but still think you're missing something. I won't even try to convince you that this album is good because no one can be convinced to like something (I hate to admit it but "musical taste" exists).
    I personally don't enjoy many high rated albums, including the second part of this one BTW. There is an option of respecting an album while still not liking it. Happens to me a lot. I think this is the minimum that this album deserves.
    I used the words "poison", "hatred" and "wrong observations" because you are not claiming that the "band" here is not talented enough, immature or lacks skills. You are blaming them for having bad intentions, for lacking artistic integrity, for trying to trick the listener with this album. This is just totally unfair in this case. This is challenging stuff that requires multiple listens not some cynical pop release targeted at stupid, head banging djent kids. It is obvious that hundreds or thousands of hours were dedicated to making this album. It is clear that a lot of thought and emotion went into every note played and every vocal melody, isn't it?
    Another "wrong" observation is about Dan's singing. Isn't he, by far, the best, most risk taking clean singer in the djent scene? Isn't this maybe his best work to date? If you don't like clean/ emotional singing that's fine but give the guy some credit. The album is full of moments like the one you found in Aurora.
    About "wrong comparisons", you obviously enjoyed "Fathom" by Ceterum, an album that I also like a lot (too bad their singer's live singing doesn't seem to come anywhere near his studio "abilities"). Many will find Ceterum easy to dismiss as a tool copycat, lacking originality. Luckily you are not very familiar with tool's work (as you say in the review) so you could give Fathom a fair listen and appreciate it for what it truly is.

  5. I try not to stick to an opinion-system on a no-matter-what basis, that would prevent me for from correcting my position if and when beneficially confronted with a misconception I built the system upon.

    After hearing this release again, and reading your input, you kind of convinced me to accept and appreciate the release for what it is, maybe a relatively peaceful alternative metal output with djent leanings. I'll try to draw attention to this opinion-hack in the beginning of the review and will score the spin higher.

    Yes, tastes are existent, but it does not necessarily need to be so that someone must react hostile if her/his favoritisms and tastes are challenged. A favoritism should be defendable against attacks and should exhibit an overall capacity to convert the initial attacker to an appreciator. You could defend this release against a relative attacker, after all.

    Indeed, many seem to say that Ceterum is a blatant Tool copycat, while Tool seems to be regarded by many as a lighter version of Meshuggah. I agree the Ceterum lead singer struggles valiantly to deliver live, but at least he struggles valiantly. I will check out Tool soon, it is rather risky to write music reviews without knowing them. ^^

    Thank you for your mindhack and for your relevant input.

  6. Thanks man. I truly appreciate the mental flexibility you showed here. Keep on the good work.


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