Sight Of Emptiness - Redemption review

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Band: Sight Of Emptiness
Album: Redemption
Release date: June 2020

01. Utter Control
02. Futura
03. Her Smell
04. Omens And Dreams
05. Obey 201
06. Hyperfantasy
07. Men Eating Man
08. Gateway Nocturne


Costa Rican melodeath metalheads Sight Of Emptiness return after more than half a decade away from releasing full length records with what has to be one of the most left-field albums of the year. Redemption sees the band dive head first in a new direction as you are left to watch on the side lines watching the series of unfolding events in utter bemusement.

Given the sharp turn of direction this album takes from "Omens And Dreams", which sees the band show the audience the bend in the road they're going to take before then fully committing themselves for the rest of the record, you are likely going be left thinking this was a split record with another band rather than a whole album by the same band. I can honestly say I had thought there was a glitch somewhere and somehow two separate records had been slammed together given the drastic change in style; once I had confirmed this wasn't the case, I spent the next few listens wondering how the band expected such a jarring merger of sounds to work.

For those of you who are unaware of Sight Of Emptiness's history, the first two tracks "Utter Control" and "Futura" are strong representations of the band's prior work and of their melodic death metal roots. Having one foot in both the traditional 90's death metal scene and the Gothenburg sound, the band may not have stood out as unique beyond their national origins but were a fun listen on releases like Absolution Of Humanity, showing promise. Perhaps it is because of this that the band decide to swerve the audience in order to stand out more in a sea of similar bands, in which case Redemption is a resounding success; the bad news however is how they plan to juggle these disparate sounds going forward.

Given this was a band that once featured a guest spot from a member of the Costa Rican government on their prior release (check out "Paradox" from Instincts), it's saying something that veering from melodeath to synthwave in the space of a few tracks is the weirdest thing this band has done. While I enjoy both genres, the colliding of both worlds doesn't work in such close succession to each other, in much the same way eating a bowl of ice cream right before a sirloin steak is a shock to the tastebuds.

As with much synthwave music, it does come off as muzak rather than music, sitting in the back of your mind rather than front and centre, like they previously occupied with their heavier style. The fact that this comprises half of the album (from "Omens And Dreams" to the closer "Gateway Nocturne") means that the band effectively relegate their full length down to an EP in terms of material fans will listen to closely. Arias must have had a field day given that he is effectively given centre stage, but aside from the piano of the closing "Gateway Nocturne", he plays little that is really memorable, otherwise creating a general shifting airy synthscape that will pass you by like running through a cloud.

On the flip side, "Utter Control" and "Futura" are ok melodeath tracks, with a few tinges of electronica thrown in to fill out the tracks. Sight Of Emptiness start the record off in a style that fans are used to; the songs mostly sit in the middle of the road in the grand scheme of things. Neither song will set your pulses racing but they will pick your ears up and ensure you are paying attention.

If there was an award for most unexpected change of direction of the year, then I would nominate Sight Of Emptiness without skipping a beat; all the best of luck to the band going forward, but apart from a listen out of pure curiosity to see if they have decided to carry on this experiment on their next release, I imagine this is where I step off the train and watch it disappear into the distance.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 5
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 4
Production: 5


Written on 10.11.2020 by Just because I don't care doesn't mean I'm not listening.

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