Released: 2016, Housecore Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Imagine if you will that Icelandic musical weirdo Bjork and deathcore alumni Emmure crossed paths and decided to create their own version of LULU. And in the process of said collaboration, they enlisted Author & Punisher’s Tristan Shone to orchestrate and produce the affair. That’s what Italian avant-garde metallers Syk sound like on their I-OPTIKON debut.
Eight tracks of eight string guitars tuned down to infinity amongst a mechanical backdrop of shifting time signatures and schizophrenic pentameter, whilst their charismatic front woman summons Diamonda Galas and Karyn Crisis in a vocal performance that often follows a roadmap all her own. Here’s the kicker though – I should hate everything about this, but I-OPTIKON is a bizarrely compelling listen. At times sounding like Fear Factory on Quaaludes, other times sounding like nothing I’ve ever heard before; every time my trigger finger got itchy to skip to the next track, my curiosity to hear where the song goes next won out every friggin’ time.
In songs like “Sinomi” and “Disintegrate”, the stringed instruments fall back to a more percussive role while Dalila Kayros’ amorphous vocals dictate and drive the melody lines. It only started to make sense after the second or third listen, but when it clicks, there’s a total “a-ha” moment. If I didn’t know any better, “Fleshworms” could’ve passed for a Godflesh cover, whereas “Mud” is more Voivod-esque in scope and “Fong” is closest thing you’ll get to traditional rhythm and cadence. It’s a strange album for sure, and as strange albums tend to come, I-OPTIKON is courtesy of Phil Anselmo’s Housecore Records.
Superficially, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t like Syk, but when you hit “play” on your stereo, somehow all of that flies out the window. I-OPTIKON is a peculiar release that should sit well with adventurous listeners, and those that are even mildly curious would be well served to at least give it a taste.