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Album of the year, so far - 95%

Hattori, July 26th, 2002

The Kimberly Goss-led troupe, Sinergy, return with their third full-length album, "Suicide By My Side." And where do I begin describing its greatness?

Firstly, Kimberly Goss sounds incredible. While her vocals on the band's first album, "Beware the Heavens," sounded too pretty and too gothic, here they're much more memorable. The fanzine writer turned keyboardist turned singer is really coming into her own as a vocalist. On "Suicide By My Side," Goss's vocals are angrier and more metal-sounding than ever before. The vocals are complimented by the album's aggressive guitarwork. Make sure that all of your lettuce is a safe distance away, because the guitars here absolutely shred. Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala are both excellent soloists, yet for some reason, bands like Weezer appear on the cover of Guitar World magazine.

Although the songwriting was spread out amongst the band members, "Suicide By My Side" sounds surprisingly cohesive. With all the different writers, it's even more surprising that every single track on this album kicks complete and utter ass. Alexi Laiho shares lead vocals with his wife on "Shadow Island," a song inspired by the video game "Alone in the Dark." I am typically not a fan of Laiho's vocals, but somehow his rasp works on this song, maybe because it's taken in small doses. I know I couldn't handle an entire album's worth of his vocal style. His vocals are the only reason I don't listen to Finnish black metallers "Children of Bodom."

Kimberly Goss handles all of the band's lyrics, and I can relate easily to their depressing nature. Songs like "Me, Myself, My Enemy," and "Written In Stone" echo my own feelings: "This isn't living, I'm only existing / I refuse to stay here and continue to live out this lie / I shatter the hourglass, hoping my time will pass / I'll only be noticed when my name is written in stone." It's almost as if she wrote this album's lyrics specifically with me in mind. The mood of this release ranges from angry and resistant to depressed and hopeless. "Suicide By My Side" is certainly not a happy, uplifting album in the vein of Helloween and Freedom Call.

The disc closes with “Remembrance,” a short piano instrumental composed by Goss and dedicated to the victims of 9/11. Although it's not fast or aggressive like the other tracks, “Remembrance” is incredibly solemn, so it does not conflict with the overall feeling of the album. The instrumental directly follows the title track, so it ultimately feels like a requiem for the title track's suicidal speaker, even though it was intended as a requiem for those who died on September 11th.

Of all the albums released in 2002, "Suicide By My Side" has found its way into my CD player more than any other. It's currently my favorite album of the year and if you give it a chance, it might be yours too.