Swedish metallers Sonic Syndicate have gone through a barrage of criticism from their fans and music critics, and yet they continue to show us that they’re not going to go down without a fight. These guys draw from a number of influences within the metalcore genre such as Killswitch Engage, In Flames and Soilwork. This year sees their fifth, self-titled, studio release and it is the first album by Sonic Syndicate to not feature former members Richard and Roger Sjunnesson.(vocals and guitar)
So, having done my background research and listened to the bands’ previous release, We Rule The Night, I was feeling highly dubious when about to review this album. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of this metalcore wankery, and the fact the band are still labelled under “melodic death metal” is a complete joke, as Sonic Syndicate haven’t produced anything remotely similar to the genre since their first album Eden Fire and even then, that was… well.. I won’t go into that. Although I may appear quite harsh, I have to say that with this in mind, Sonic Syndicate’s latest release doesn’t seem half bad.
Opening track “Day of the Dead” seems to be focused on one of these “heartbroken, and I hate you, but I want you”, love stories. Personally, the chorus and “melodious” vocals are still too ‘pop’ and mainstream for my liking, with cheesy lyrics like “but I fucking hate you” and “I want to break you, I want to make you miiiIIiiine”, but the verses have a grudgy, heavy sound and the guttural vocals really work.
The problem with Sonic Syndicate is the same dilemma that plagues the metalcore genre in general; it all sounds the same. You find after time, (and this goes for most of the albums you listen to in this scene), that every song has the same structure, the same whiney sung choruses and the same screamed verses; there really isn’t anything new and exciting thrown in the mix to “spice things up” a little. And for a band that utilises the synthesiser a lot, it’s surprising there isn’t a full time keyboardist.
“Long Road Home” and “See What I See” are two of the best album tracks. “L.R.H” provides fast and incredibly prominent drum beats, heavy riffing and heavy vocals, whilst the chorus offers us some sort of up-beat pop-punk sound which shows the bands’ medley of skills. Unfortunately, it still doesn’t persuade me to hit the “repeat” button. “Unbreakable” provides a softer edge to the album, with rolling drum beats, solid riffs and subtle keyboard refrains, whilst the subdued vocals accompanying the mix aren’t overly cheesy or whiney!
On a good note – “Before you Finally Break” is the only track on the album to feature a guest vocalist and here we find Bjorn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork, offering up both clean and coarse vocals and when combined with Nathan’s vocals, they deliver an intense chorus that really makes this song worth a listen as it’s easily one of the heaviest tracks on the album or that they’ve ever written! The song adds layers as it progresses, with heavy, yet melodic riffs from Robin, and the fast, bruising drum beats by John.
Please, don’t get me wrong as this really isn’t a damp squib of an album, and while I can’t jump on this uninspired, predictable train of metalcore and “melodic death metal”, I can see why others and steadfast fans appreciate the music. For them, it won’t matter that the album is far too repetitive after the 4th, 5th, 6th (“oh god, how long does it go on for!?”) song.
Sonic Syndicate really do hold a similar sound to Atreyu throughout this album, with subtle Soilwork hints thrown in. The production is good, clean, and contributes to the all-round sound of the band, and despite the loss of Richard and Roger Sjunnesson this album is still full of head-banging, bruising riffs, catchy lyrics with gravitational low-end growls and simple, yet heavy drumming.
Whilst it’s nothing new or exciting, Sonic Syndicate do maintain a sense of identity and this album easily stands within the top half of this overpopulated genre. Fans of metalcore and melodic death metal will find much to love.
Released July 4th via Nuclear Blast.
1. Day of the Dead
2. Black Hole Halo
3. Long Road Home
4. My Revenge
5. Before You Finally Break
6. Catching Fire
8. It Takes Me
9. See What I See
10. So Addicted
11. The Flame That Changed The World
Nathan James Biggs – vocals
Robin Sjunnesson – guitar, backing vocals
Karin Axelsson – bass
John “Runken” Bengtsson – drums