Some bands wear their influences on their sleeves. If you pick up an early Interpol album, for example, you can hear Joy Division all over it. Similarities, though less obvious, exist between Bloc Party and Gang of Four and even Muse and Radiohead. It’s rare though that someone borrows so liberally as Sights Distorted.
For large parts of ‘Last Light’, Sights Distorted sound just like Nine Inch Nails. It’s as though the Drogheda based band picked up Trent Reznor’s How to Industrial Metal (book doesn’t actually exist, probably) and followed it, step by step, in constructing their debut album. The good news is though, they the band have made a good fist of it.
The start of opener First Light, would not give away the direction of the album, sounding more sombre, instrumental, post-rock – think Halves – than anything else. In the final minute though, it becomes a cacophonous noise of metal and electronics. As an album opener it fits perfectly, setting the tone for what’s to come.
When the vocals kick in at the start of Arrows, the Nine Inch Nails sound becomes clear, with the Reznor-esque lyrics of “This world is just a place to hide” sung in a most Reznor-esque voice. Wires and Half-Light too have vocals reminiscent of the Oscar winner, though they don’t quite have the same quality about them.
It’s not just Nine Inch Nails that Sights Distorted have aimed for. Rammstein are another industrial heavyweight in the sights, as can be heard on Linear and Stritch. And, like almost everything else on the album, an excellent fist is made of all of them. The band is clearly very technically astute and the production is first class.
But for all the gloss among the mired emotions, there is something lacking about the album. There is never really any punch to the tracks. As dirty a word as ‘hook’ might be these days, a few are needed on ‘Last Light’ to keep the listener’s attention.
Case in point is Precursor. A song that would sound perfect as an interlude, or even an album closer, it is instead pushed to the fore as one of the marquee tracks, a position it is ill-equipped to hold. Slowly and Last Light, which close the album, sound largely like filler content.
Sights Distorted work best when they go for a more bombastic sound. Squeal and 5×5 – the best track on the album – go for big, heavy sounds that are reminiscent of (whisper it) Marilyn Manson. Who knows what direction the band pursues in the future but, for now, ‘Last Light’ is a fine but forgettable debut.