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“Sleepy Skeletor” is the debut album by Portsmouth five-piece crossover band Seething Akira, which I’ve been sitting on and selfishly keeping to myself for the last couple of months. It made number six in my favourite albums of 2018 before I’d even reviewed it here.
Formed in 2011 by Charlie Bowes (writer and vocalist) and Kit Conrad (lead vocalist) their aim was to create a hybrid band of electronic synths, guitars and “Beastie Boys” style vocals. They’ve done that and more. To my ears, musically, Seething Akira fall somewhere between The Prodigy, Depeche Mode and Senser. Their music is energetic, demanding and very ‘street’. It flits easily between heavy riffs, full-on pop and delicate melodies.
The album opens with “EST 2010 – Intro“, a recording of someone entering the studio and chatting briefly with those gathered there. It’s a disarming start to the energy that’s coming.
“The monster from Brussels” (track 2) kicks things off with a pulsing synth riff that is soon joined by a distorted guitar, pounding drums and Keith Flint-style vocals. The chorus drops things down a little for a beautiful and melodic lament—”I can’t be alone in here…” This song won me over on my first listen of the album. I stuck the album on repeat for the rest of the evening.
“Matching poles of magnets” (track 3) whines into life above an industrial beat and a Prodigy-style blast of words. The layered chorus is a driving oasis of melody. “Half empty” (track 4) builds slowly from a clean arpeggio guitar riff to a gentle vocal dialog that is more spoken than sung. Then they drop the beat and while the pace doesn’t increase, the intensity deepens. “I am the devil” (track 5) reminds me of a Senser song that’s being played at a club. More pounding beats and shouted lyrics beneath a saw-blade riff.
“Backlash (featuring Olly Simmons)” (track 6), the first of two tracks to feature guest vocalists, Olly Simmons of Brighton-based drum-n-bass act The Qemists. Above swathes of creamy keyboards, Simmons, Conrad, Bowes and co. grind out an anthemic tune that sounds grand.
“Pack animals” (track 7) gets going with a fast-paced guitar riff that quickly morphs into a jagged keyboard echo with chugging guitar beneath. A high energy song that slows a little only to catch its breath and run off again.
“Paralysed” (track 8) features a positively headbanging riff that stomps and drives the song from start to finish. It’s probably the heaviest song on the album. I love the chorus which gets melodic over sustained chords that gives the impression of space.
“Even angels break hearts (featuring Dani Uziel)” (track 9) is the second track to feature a guest artist, this time Portsmouth singer/songwriter Dani Uziel. The song opens with a simple piano melody. Uziel’s vocals bring a new dynamic. It would be lovely to hear a whole album of collaborated tracks.
“Disconnect” (track 10) has an almost punk/hardcore feel as the song blasts off the start and pulses through verse and chorus. This is may be the simplest song on the album, structure-wise. But it’s a fun romp that brings something new.
“The Islander” (track 11) brings the album to a close with a haunting melody. “Every day is a test and I feel blessed.” It brings together everything we’ve heard so far into a perfect showcase of everything that is Seething Akira.
In my best of 2018 review, I said that this album has been my guilty pleasure for the last few months. And it has, although to be honest I don’t feel particularly guilty. I love crossover music like this that brings genres together, breaks down silos, and creates something fresh and exciting.
Musically, Seething Akira fall somewhere between The Prodigy, Depeche Mode and Senser and probably a whole load of artists I’ve never even heard of. The album, I guess, could be accused of beginning to sound a little same-y by the end but there is comfort and familiarly in that—they’ve created their own world and they are exploring it. That I’ve played this album again and again and again, at home, in the car, on my phone, at work, is testament to there being something special in this release.
I probably should be reviewing another album now, but do you know what? I’m going to give this another spin, it’s that good.
Review score: 100%
BJF Media contacted me inviting me to preview Seething Akira’s forthcoming album (when it was forthcoming), which I was delighted about. I have no connections to either BJF Media or Seething Akira. I’m not being paid to review this. But I did get a free digital copy of the album to review which is pretty cool. Many thanks to Judith from BJF Media, and to Seething Akira for continuing to create fresh, exciting music.