CD Review

Sonic Syndicate – “Eden Fire”

By Marcus Pan

Eden FireFor some reason when Sonic Syndicate came in I had visions of an industrial electro outfit doing the Kraftwerk thing. Somehow the name made me expectant of that. Imagine my surprise when I put my headphones on, turned up the volume to “industrial electro levels” only to be blasted through my head by the riveting powerful metal guitars of the six member unit. Music on Eden Fire is very tight and controlled. One wonders how well they can pull this off out of the studio and on a stage.

Sonic Syndicate is, regardless of their young age, a strong band. Eden Fire is brutally heavy with excellent musician qualities, tight work and although I’m not into the guttural black metal vocal thing it’s nonetheless done well. Consisting of three segments, including the previously released Black Lotus and Extinction EPs, one strikingly satisfying thing about Sonic Syndicate is their use of strong keyboard licks which most black metal bands will stray from for fear of lowering the brutality of their sound.

Not so here, as tracks like Enhance My Nightmare uses keys to open into a sweet place only to have the guitars of brothers Roger & Robin Sjunnesson shred through with power and finesse. With members as young as 17 years old in this band, with a top tier of only 22, it’s non-amateurish and surprising in its quality. Also along for the ride is Andreas Martensson’s keyboards, which I’ve already mentioned does a fine job of joining the guitars without losing the brutality that black-metal purists need to feel big and strong and manly. Karin Axelsson’s bass keeps pace. I might mention in a side note that Karin’s a hottie, but she’d probably kick my ass. Kristoffer Backlund’s speed-metal drumming gives us the blistering pace.

Richard Sjunnesson’s vocals take the guttural growls of black metal fanfare, but its not as demonic as most giving it a humanistic quality rather than going too far into the “look at me be spooky” territory as folks like Impaled Nazarene[1] would do to such an extent that it becomes less vocals and more just growling. Female vocals back the powerful five+ minute epic of Enhance My Nightmare beautifully – another tactic that folks like Nazarene won’t use because of the same reasons about keyboards.

Sonic Syndicate’s Eden Fire is the first release by upstart label Pivotal Rockordings and with artwork by Jose A. Aranguren and excellent mixing, they’ve done a fine job of their first release. Lots of claps to Kristoffer’s double-bass drum on Zion Must Fall. To hear what the pretty Karin can do, check out the opening to Lament of Innocence, where her deep playing joins with the bright piano melody of Andreas’ keys. The continuing piano is apparent throughout the track and lashes against the dual guitar creating an interesting sound between the two.

A good outing for both Sonic Syndicate’s debut and the first pro-recording of Pivotal Rockordings. Distributed worldwide by a number of metal labels and distribution units, it shouldn’t be too hard to find Eden Fire. Just don’t turn up the headphones thinking it’s electro-poop like I did and your ears won’t bleed like mine did and you’ll be fine. Mixing in elements of keyboards and even Karin’s high female angelic vocals at times, Sonic Syndicate aren’t afraid of stepping away from the normal black metal camp and show that it is, indeed, possible to be loaded with talent and still play black metal.

Contact Information:
Pivotal Recordings
Post: 1316 N. Darborn, Chicago, IL, 60610, USA
Phone: (312) 504-0080
E-Mail: alexi@pivotalrage.com
[1] Their Death Comes in 26 Selected Pieces live CD was reviewed in Legends #151.

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