Review Summary: Guitar wank, but memorable.
Talented guitar playing is nothing without substantial song writing to back it up. This is something that YouTube shredders with bands they always link to in the description of their covers of impossibly hard songs by more famous bands don't seem to understand, but Sithu Aye gets perfectly. His ridiculously complicated and noodly guitarwork can be found all over his new EP "Pulse", but always serves as a compliment to an already interesting main structure. His jazzy and smooth solos go well with the uplifting atmosphere his songs are pushing, making his songs sound like Weather Channel material while still remaining energetic and full of life. Pulse isn't in any way a departure from his signature sound, continuing the vibe that last year's "26" and the Plini split EP carried, but it's possibly the most vital and inspired interpretation of that sound that he's pulled off so far.
The two parts of the title track seem to be a throwback to his two previous LPs, containing more "djenty" ideas and the use of eight string guitars, but are much more well done and catchy than anything on those albums could hope to be. The mid section is more focused on faster, jazzy jams that hit you just as hard as they soothe. "Messenger" is head bobbingly relaxing, even as it assaults you with insane guitar solos from Aye and Intervals guitarist Aaron Marshall; "Shiny" is almost straight jazz fusion and works wonderfully as a middle track, and "Lights! Camera! Explosions!" is frantic and bursting with melody. There is no dissonance here in any capacity, which may contribute to the songs slightly blending in to each other. It would have been interesting to see Sithu try his hand at something more violent to the ears, especially with his material being billed as metal; the crunchy guitar tone here is the heaviest thing about any of these songs. But melody will likely always remain Sithu Aye's strong suit, so he can't be faulted too much for sticking to it.
Pulse is relatively homogenous sounding, flowing almost too well from one track to the other, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. This is a release you can either absorb in full, taking in every note and bend, or leave comfortably in the background. It's rewarding on both levels, so grab it if you've got some major studying to do, or if you've had a stressful day and just need to immerse yourself in something. Hopefully Sithu will make more of an effort to provide more variety on his next release, but until then, Pulse is an admirable advancement of his "happy progressive metal" sound away from a certain stale low-tuned approach, and a more than worthwhile entry into his ever-expanding discography.