Published in the Hindu Metroplus in May 2012.
Skyharbor – Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos
In November last year, the NH7 Weekender festival in Pune unleashed Skyharbor to play their first ever live show. The performance saw Keshav Dhar shredding away on his guitar, Nikhil Rufus adding to an impeccable bass groove, and Anup Sastry drumming away at what seemed to be an incalculable speed.
Dhar created Skyharbor after deciding to expand his solo, home studio project Hydrodjent. Not having to rely on a seven-string or eight-string guitar to create djent has already become an alien concept in this progressive metal sub-genre. Even then, Skyharbor managed to impress the likes of Marty Friedman (Megadeth), Dan Tompkins (ex-Tesseract) and Vishal J Singh (Amogh Symphony). Skyharbor now stands firmly as one of the most recognisable Indian metal bands.
In addition to the above guest collaborations – Tompkins sings on every track for the first part of the album titled ‘Illusion’ – closer to home, Bhayanak Maut’s Sunneith Revankar provides the angrier, abrasive edge to the album’s second part ‘Chaos’.
The record kicks off with Dhar’s first claim-to-fame, ‘Dots’, which sounds a tad unnatural with Tompkins’ vocals, especially if you have been used to the instrumental version for the longest time. Even then, a lot of the originally-instrumental songs are infused with vocals to add a different personality to it. ‘Celestial’ is another infectious track on the album, by which point you can be convinced the partnership between Skyharbor and Tompkins is working.
‘Order 66’ slows the pace down very quickly, being a very ordinary djent song. ‘Catharsis’ on the other hand is layered beautifully, with ambient soundscapes clashing perfectly with sharp riffs. Precision is everything in djent, and Skyharbor makes it count (no pun intended) to an admirable extent.
The second disc ‘Chaos’ are Revankar’s territory, and though Tompkins has that eccentricity of performing metal and clean vocals exceptionally, the last three tracks also push Dhar’s brutal tunes to the front. ‘Trayus’, ‘Aphasia’ and ‘Insurrection’ are perfectly categorised as chaos. Skyharbor saves the heaviest for last, and succeeds in mind-numbing, startlingly accurate metal, while Revankar’s vocals are guttural and monstrous.
Skyharbor might not be the greatest thing to happen in djent, but it certainly tops the list of Indian metal bands with regard to global exposure. With ‘Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos’, Skyharbor forge a sound that would make most metal artists – Indian and global – envious.