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Who the hell does concept demos? - 85%

PriestofSadWings, October 10th, 2007

I first came upon Sindrome when searching the database for bands in my area. I noticed them. “Hey, a thrash band from my town!” I said. Their demo was available for free download, and so I downloaded it. And was blown away. This release can hardly be called a demo. I mean, who releases concept demos? Yet here it is, in all its mighty thrashing glory, a perfect middle ground between …And Justice for All, late-80’s Slayer, and Practice What You Preach. Fuck, they even named the band after a line in a Voivod song (the line is “The China Syndrome” from Overreaction).

The album has an interesting apocalyptic theme. The concept is about a man who starts seeing visions of the apocalypse. He wants to dismiss them as dreams, but they come repeatedly, and eventually he has to face them. In other words, the lyrics are fucking THRASH METAL.

Sindrome is a band not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve. Coroner, Forbidden, Slayer, and Testament all ring through here. Specifically, vocalist Troy Dixler sounds sort of like Chuck Billy, and the solos are total Slayer (which is a good or bad thing depending on how much you like Slayer). Even though that could be seen as a point against this album, I like it. The songwriting is very original, and even though you know their influences, it doesn’t sound like “OK, here comes the Coroner part.”

A little bit on the history of Sindrome. This was a band that was professional from the start. It formed out of members from the Chicago-area bands Master, Terminal Death, and Devastation. Their first demo was a rather badly produced death/thrash affair called Into the Halls of Extermination. They opened for Death, among others. They produced this demo in ’92, and then they stopped.

The band is split up now. Dixler has an office job (You can actually find quite a bit of info if you Google him), Ken Savich has faded into obscurity, Mick Vega plays in an Orlando band called Rising Up Angry (look at their MySpace and you’ll find a video of him being smashed by a moshing fan), Tony Ochoa plays in Speed Kill Hate, and Shaun Glass is with that mallcore piece of ShiT known as SoiL. Sorry, Shaun.

Dixler has a unique style. He doesn’t really sing, he talks. It’s as if he’s having a conversation with you over the music. The thing is, being a thrash vocalist, it sounds like he’s yelling at you. There is melody in his vocals, sure, but it’s only the normal tone shifts that take place in conversation. He’s a perfect fit for the band, I have to say, and it works wonderfully on this demo. You’ll probably shout along with him on the choruses, especially the opener Descending Into Madness.

Surprisingly for a thrash metal demo, it’s not the riffs that make it good. The riffs don’t really stand out as much as the songs do. These riffs aren’t all that great, but they create a sense of chaotic energy that somehow makes up for the lack of catchiness. I couldn’t hum you a single riff from this album, and yet the pure energy surge that the music is makes up for that. The album isn’t super-technical, but Sindrome was a band that took pride in the fact that they their music was more than just reused Hellhammer riffs, to paraphrase Glass.

At the same time, the album isn’t melodic enough to truly be catchy outside of the vocals. I know, I’m complaining about a thrash album not being melodic. I, personally, like my thrash catchy with lots of Maiden influence, but that’s just my taste. This is a well-done thrash demo, it’s free, and well… I like it.