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A word that immediately means something to each and everyone of us as human beings. Whether in real life experiences or art. Whether it's music, film or photography. Emotion is a key ingredient in any respectable artists work. Sure, the absence of emotion can also amplify a particular work's effect. But I'm sure most people would agree that the art that leaves the biggest impression on a personal level usually do so through some means of emotion.
Introducing Sybreed. A Swiss industrial/groove metal act who started off in 2003 from the ashes of a former band called Rain. Having released their obviously overlooked debut effort "Slave Design" the following year, I'm sure most listeners were certain that Sybreed was just another unremarkable industral metal outfit to slowly deteriorate into the realm of the forgotten. "Antares" was my second listening experience from this band. When I skimmed through this album for the first time none of the tracks sticked with me. I actually almost despised this and decided to not listen to this (at the time) travesty again. But then something happened to me on a personal level that spiralled me into the realms of depression. I was looking for music to mend my at the time broken heart. Then I remembered Sybreed and their "Antares" album and I decided to listen to it once more. I am very happy I did so. You see this is an album that left a huge impact on me as a person, especially at the time. All of the musical elements I had such a hard time picking up before emotional affliction hit me full-on, now seemed clearer than daylight as I listened to this remarkable artwork. The album starts off with opener "Emma Zero". The first thing you hear is a distorted beat in the background and a synth being unveiled in the electronic soundscapes. The extremely downtuned and groovy guitar then hits you like a brick, you can immediately hear the sinister vibe present in the guitar tone and the riffs constructed around it. Benjamin Nominét then makes his spiteful entrance into the record. Upping the ante and spitting out pain-filled screams featuring lyrics about disappointments we all face in life. Read this lyrical excerpt from the song.
Mutilate me, hurt me now
You've cut your wings to justify my guiltiness
We're all slave of some sadistic obsession
You put this needle in my head, a needle called pain
There is some sense of hope and longing encased within the icy, melodic refrain on this track. To give the listener a false sense of security in that there might be an escape out of this nerve wrecking emotional downfall. The synths pulse deeply beneath and above the guitar grooves like the heart of a panicked person struck by tragedy. Emotion - it's all here present in this phenomenal opener. There is a deeply interlaced link between the futuristic sounding music and the despaired emotions we as humans go through in life. I have honestly never before heard such a remarkable balance between guitars, synths and drums as I do when I listen to "Antares". The guitar sounds absolutely majestic in the aggressive and thunderous rhythms, but is also very convincing in the transitional guitar leads that match incredibly well with the synth/keyboard melodies. Just listen to the amazing guitar chords in the first 14 seconds of "Revive My Wounds", what follows is a dreamy synth section and the distorted beat then leads into the songs verse. Benjamin sounds incredibly apathetic and downright angry as he explains how deceived and betrayed he has been by this person he describes in the lyrics. The section at the end of this song right after the final chorus is stunning to say the least, I won't spoil too much but I will note that it features some extremely innovative technical precision in both guitar strumming and double bass work.
The production fits this album like a glove and is one of the major components as to why this album is a masterpiece. The production is compressed, but not in the sense that the instruments get drowned and streamlined into a cacophonous mess. No, this is the type of production that cements the excellent new-wave synths firmly above the technical groove the guitars express. The drums to some extent take a backseat on this album, but the drummer certainly is no third-rate drummer for he is the mighty Dirk Verbeuren from Scarve and Soilwork. His performance is indeed all-encompassing both in his effortless progressive drumming in "Ego Bypass Generator" and flawless in his blasting and maniacal skin bashing on "Dynamic" and "Twelve Megatons Gravity". Sybreed leaves no stone unturned in their pursuit for melodic death-laden industrial metal explorations. Just check out "Neurodrive" and become ungulfed in it's rollercoaster rhythms and distorted guitar slides, Ben's vocals sound absolutely excellent on this track and it might be his best vocal exercise ever. The album is relentless on most tracks but there are also some epic and almost ballad-like numbers like "Isolate" and the closing "Ethernity". My personal favorite tracks are aformentioned "Neurodrive" and "Twelve Megatons Gravity". The latter being one of the angriest songs I have ever heard featuring a build-up and release not many other bands can muster in today's metal scene.
Even if you have always kept away from industrial/groove/modern metal prior to reading this review, I really advise you to give this album a chance. It's sad how overlooked this album is, because legendary records like these do not come around very often. And it would be a damn shame to see this masterpiece not get the recognition it truly deserves.