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Bavarians Sycronomica aren't easily described, but that does not mean they are totally original. Because they aren't. They have mixed many styles in their music, true, but it alone does not make anyone unique.
After generic gothic horror part, 'Erased by Light' turns into a death metal song for a while, and then it's time for Dimmu Borgir style stuff and towards the end there's a more proggy part. 'Creations of Mine' reminds me of many German pagan/folk metal bands, e.g. Menhir, and is my favourite song with it's fitting synth-work (flutes etc.). There's the things what Sycronomica are about, with addition of Cradle Of Filth and Borknagar into the soup. One big problem is "I've heard this somewhere before" feeling throughout the album. Riffs, dramatic synthesizers and boring gurgling growl vocals are nothing new. Another problem is caused by some mammoth songs, which feel like their duration was just doubled by repeat, and as the album is over an hour long, it simply isn't able to keep me sitting and listening to it all the way through. This is mostly about forgettable melodies and compositions, I'm afraid. Lyrics seem to deal with personal (hateful and melancholic) thoughts, vampires and war.
The production is partly heavy, but still somehow powerless, maybe because it feels a tad empty. It's badly balanced and does not sound big enough for this kind of music. Sometimes it's more spacey, as it should, but sometimes it gets too "full" losing all feel of epicness. Bass drums are in the front of the mix while snare is somewhere in the back.
With 'Paths', even though being their debut album, Sycronomica have nothing new to offer. I simply can't get any real feelings from this. 'Paths' is just another one for the grey area in black/goth metal territory. And that area is packed! But hey, if you're looking for another melodic black metal platter with a lot of gothic tendencies as well as some folky stuff, then you can do much, much worse.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com in 2005)
Hunting through the mess of modern gothic/black metal today is really a game of tossup. Sometimes like pruning through berries on a bush. Some are old and shriveled up and are useless. An occasional few are just ripe and rich. And some appear to be nice and ripe but turn out to be immature still have some bitterness to their favor. The majority of gothic black metal falls under this latter category.
Sycronomica does look nice and ripe. Good imagery all over their albums. Great logo too. It really jumps at you and gets your attention for those who like this style. It sure did for me. But of course I know to be wary each time I find something that looks nice. I waited a bit until I was able to obtain “Paths” at a cheap price before I moved on them. It looked good. Heck even some of the lyrics were really cool! And that is rare indeed. So I picked this nice dark ripe berry and looked over it a little hesitantly. Would it prove to be a delicious treat? Well what do you think?
As soon as I put this cd on and the music began to blast through my speakers I got a quick gush of rich flavor. Rich epic synths pound out in pride, full of a variety and skill uncommon to most bands like this. Lots of character. That’s good! But as the music progressed they became mostly regulated to the background. Not unusual for modern black/death groups that typically are masqueraded as symphonic black. Constantly present yes, but still this was obviously about the drums and guitars… which I would like to make a point about.
The drummer is nice and fast and pretty good. The guitarist is clearly well-practiced and talented, maybe not a shred master, but he can play complex stuff if he needs to. But this is where a first bit of sourness comes in. As the riffs flesh themselves out, it becomes clear this is melo black/death. Not unusual but a bit disappointing. Dimmu Borgir’s influence continues on and on… Ok so yes we have a gifted band once again playing typical and rather unoriginal music. But wait there is some originality! Oh god and now I put my face in my hands. The melodic lines and riffs and breaks have a unique character that, far from enhancing, ends up ruining everything. It’s hard to pin down, but it is obvious. Each track is rudely punctuated by these crudely ‘spooky’ ideas that come off as totally crass and comical. Downright goofy. Just listen to “Creation of Mine”. The first idea comes in with a great guitar lead and evocative synths with great piano arpeggios accenting. It’s very nice. Then suddenly the chorus sets in. What the fuck! All this cheesy and obscene guitar noodling jumps in with keys reduced to miserable fast, repetaive single chords that evoke a bad circus horror house effect. Uggh! They go back into the great opening riff again after this stupid mess and as I hear the talented pianos I have to ask WHY! As each song progresses, any epic riff, lovely drums, and spectacular synth work is brought back to horrible tastelessness by more abrupt moments of this corny ‘evilish’ writing. This cleaned up album of melodeath/black is indeed not the most ideal, but with all the good musicianship and writing it could be a very wonderful execution of said used up style. But no! Cheesey mundanity keeps interrupting and pulling it down. I was trying to tolerate this until finally the track “Something from the North” sets in. Once this happen all is lost. The element ruining each song emerges through the good in all its hideousness, shredding all beauty as it goes until it is the one sole master of Sycronomica. And I just can’t bear it. Maybe I, not getting it, maybe this music is supposed to be fun and campy. But I don’t think it works at all.
The least I will say is by the second album the really obnoxious elements present here have been tamed better, so give “Gate” a listen first. This one I picked may have looked tasty with its visuals, talented musicians, and a few nice melodies, but it turned out to be still unripe and bitter just like the vast majority of other albums of its ilk… except, considering of all the good possibilities unused here, a little moreso.