Four years after We Rule the Night and some line-up changes SONIC SYNDICATE return with a brand new self-titled album out July 8 via Nuclear Blast Records. This also marks the first album by the band to not feature former members Richard and Roger Sjunnesson. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something intangible about this current incarnation of the band. It’s like they’re playing with more of a sense of urgency than on their past few efforts. And if that’s the case then the hiatus certainly did them a world of good. This is definitely one of those records that I can listen to more than once and find something new to like each time.
One of the first things I fell for, and this is odd for me, was the album closer “The Flame That Changed the World” with its potent mix of clean and harsh vocals and just the right bit of sequencing. It’s almost like the band said, “Here’s one last kick in the ass before you go!” And I thought that was very cool. “Long Road Home” is another one that has more emphasis on the brutal with a bit of melody spritzed in, and singer Nathan J. Biggs really shines on the chorus. Robin Sjunnesson manages to keep things interesting with his constant switching up between punctuated riffing and just letting the big chords ring out when necessary, most notably on “My Revenge”.
For openers you sure as hell can’t go wrong with “Day of the Dead” which is as strong a statement as SONIC SYNDICATE could make to let everyone know they are indeed back. Drummer John “Runken” Bengtsson and bassist Karin Axelsson hold down the rhythms while throwing some sonic bullets out there. The sequencing is pretty prominent on “Black Hole Halo” which was the album’s first single. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it until I heard the refrain. Once again Biggs elevates the song to new heights. We get back to the pummeling with “Before You Finally Break” featuring guest vocals from Speed Strid of SOILWORK. This is probably the heaviest song on the disc next to “Flame”, and was another instant favorite.
Another great tune is “Catching Fire”, especially on the first verse because you really have no idea where it’s going. Then when it settles in, you’ll be bobbing your head along before you know it. And the guitar work makes quasi-ballad “Unbreakable” something more than just ordinary. The remaining songs are good, but a bit on the repetitive side. Still, SONIC SYNDICATE are definitely in a better place than when we last saw them, and overall this record is a great one. Here’s hoping it stays that way from here on out.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Flame That Changed the World”, “Before You Finally Break”, “Catching Fire”, “Day of the Dead”, “My Revenge”, “Long Road Home”