Let's face it, most of the reviewers on this site despise most metalcore (except KSE, naturally), so when the self-titled Sonic Syndicate album landed into our reviews folder, we approached it warily, expecting it to bark out its metalcore growl...
Instead what we found is a band that has taken all the parts of their career, moulding them into something that has a dash of metalcore, a smattering of melodic metal and a pinch of good old fashioned classic metal.
Yes, the metalcore song structures are there on the likes of Black Hole Halo and So Addicted, but there are many more layers on each track, as there are throughout the album.
Nathan James Biggs, singer with the band since 2009, manages the bridge between metalcore and melodic metal with ease, allowing founder member Robin Sjunnesson the freedom to ease more and more from what is, pretty much a furious release.
"We decided to go with this one as a “Self-Titled” release," he explained."Mainly because as an album we have put everything we’ve got into it. All of our experience as musicians, the evolution of the music, the sound from all eras of the band, and also the road we have taken as people. This is us, this is Sonic Syndicate in all its beauty and destruction. It shows our strength, our love for melody, our scars, our energy...."
"We could not be more proud of this album, and we thank our fans for the support, it's because of them that we’re here. This album is for you.“
And, despite our trepidation it is an enjoyable album, where you can find hidden treats such as in the melodies of Long Road Home, and the mélange of Before You Finally Break, which features Soilwork singer Speed sharing vocals with Biggs.
"I'm honored to call Speed a friend. I've been a big Soilwork fan for years," he said. Those guys were a massive hand in crafting that trademark Swedish sound so it made perfect sense to ask Speed when we knew we wanted to do a song with guest vocals.
"My idea was also to have a real battle between our vocals. I hate it when you have these "featuring" songs and the guest just pops up for a chorus and then does backing vocals for a while in the verse or something. This is a real fight between us for the mic and I'm sure people are gonna appreciate that.”
It is fight that works at almost primal level - and there is a certain primal push from bassist Karin Axelsson and drummer John 'Runken' Bengtsson that is a constant throughout, with time changes perfectly matched to the now signature sound of Sonic Syndicate.
Signature sound? Is there a signature sound for just 'another metalcore band'? On this evidence there is. Sonic Syndicate have put together an album that could, just could signal not only their evolution, but also that of many other bands trying to plough an increasingly narrow furrow.
This seems to be a band that has come back refreshed from their two-year hiatus with the result being a fresh sound and an attitude to match. A well-balanced album that bodes well for the Sonic Syndicate's future.
Sonic Syndicate self-titled release is out now on Nuclear Blast
Review by Jonny