When receiving self-released albums in for review, it really is a lottery when it comes to what sort of quality you get. Bands vary in what they consider to be a ‘finished article’ in terms of production and songwriting and as a result I’ve had to deal with some pretty challenging stuff over the years. One thing that should be said of Sicadis right from the start is that there is no shortage of effort put in to this album. It’s a very professional product from the cover through to the production and musicianship, so it’s a good start. The quintet from Kansas clearly take their metal very seriously, so what exactly are they all about?

Musically, Sicadis are clearly a talented bunch and manage to incorporate a number of styles into their music, with the obvious influences coming across as Five Finger Death Punch and Arch Enemy; the latter in particular throughout ‘Insult To Injury’ which is punctuated with Amott-esque rhythms and riffage. The twin guitar attack of Andy Nagorski and Mike MacDowell is like a well-oiled machine, with technical yet chugworthy riffs being complemented by some seriously accomplished lead breaks. Brett Carter’s vocals are solid, his guttural roars and aggressive regular vocals remaining within a clearly defined ‘comfort zone’ which is a far better idea than pushing yourself to notes you can’t reach. Cameron Fitzmaurice is definitely a drummer to watch out for, with tremendous flair and skill at his disposal and a style reminiscent of the Erlandsson brothers, he keeps things running at a frenetic pace, keeping everyone on their toes.

So the band clearly have the talent, so what about the songs? Well to be completely honest, the songs are probably not their strongest point just yet. There’s nothing wrong with any of them, but at the same time there is nothing particularly grabbing about them either, and to after much soul searching, I cannot work out why. The songs are varied, but all fit within the band’s sound. They are not what you would call formulaic by any stretch of the imagination either, switching in a heartbeat between styles and with great confidence; yet they seem to be lacking in hooks. I find myself more in respect of the general musicianship on display, and after a month of listening to ‘Blood Of A Thousand Hearts’, I find myself struggling to identify specific songs by passages or riffs. It’s a tricky one to work out.

I’ll freely admit that I have enjoyed ‘Blood Of A Thousand Hearts’, and think that Sicadis have an awful lot going for them, rather like Spineshank when they first started out, rather than the disappointment that they evolved into. The songs on their own merit are fine; they just don’t seem to be up to the standard of the band just yet. I think that maybe Sicadis need some time to grow into their own skin, and the songwriting will evolve with time. They are already a sizeable cut above the majority of formulaic metalcore bands, although to pigeonhole them as such would probably be unfair, as they have far more in their locker than a simple metalcore style. An enjoyable album if not exactly memorable, but Sicadis are definitely a name to watch out for in the future.

(7/10 – Lee Kimber)