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Power Bodom seeking fit top - 68%

BastardHead, August 16th, 2018

(Total rewrite, original shitty version posted on March 7th, 2008)

It's well known that early Children of Bodom was more or less just insanely shreddy power metal with harsh vocals since Alexi Laiho's vocal talent in inversely proportional to his guitar skills, and so there was always a hypothetical "what if?" scenario floating around with regards to how they'd sound if he had just actually hired a real singer and embraced the flower power present on Hatebreeder. The closest we're probably ever going to get is Sinergy, the band he had started in the late 90s with his then-girlfriend/wife Kimberly Goss. And while Sinergy isn't a perfect representation of what that hypothetical Power Bodom would've sounded like (there are no keyboards and the tempo tends to be a bit more reasonably human), it's still an inescapable point of comparison.

I'm being a bit facetious here, because while Laiho is the obvious "superstar" here who has arguably gone on to have the most success (it's somewhat of a supergroup so Marco Heitala is here too), the true brains, heart, soul, and star of the band is Goss. She was the chief lyricist and songwriter, front and center at all times, and commanded the absolute fuck out of these guys with her brazen, combustive voice. Suicide by My Side is their best and most well known album, and while it has a lot of flaws, her voice in particular is not one of them. She's the obvious highlight, with a very Doro-esque approach to her mad aggressive bellowing. That's not to say she can't be sweet and emotive when the song calls for it, but her strength very clearly lies behind her explosive lungpower. The album opens with "I Spit on Your Grave", which wastes precisely zero seconds before careening into a whirlwind of excitement with her forceful mania pushed to the forefront. When Suicide by My Side is going full throttle like this song, it's at its best. The title track is the other clear highlight, with Laiho's signature guitar theatrics leading a frantic rhythm section through an adrenaline fueled romp, all with Goss's sublime power carrying everything even further.

The reason that this album has soured so much for me over the years is that, unfortunately, for how great the opener and closer are, the handful of problems the album has are all pretty unavoidable and all tie back to the same root cause: this album, frankly, does not sound like it was written by adults.

What I mean by that is that it's just super amateurish on all fronts. As amazing of a vocalist that Goss is, lyrics are really not her forte. The two main themes that constantly pop up are those of empowerment/revenge and despair/suicide. It's bad enough that those two ideas are diametrically opposed to one another and give the album a serious case of tonal schizophrenia, but even beyond that they just sound like they were written by a 14 year old. The theme of suicide is constantly presented through a filter less like a desperate soul who can't push on anymore and more like an insincere cry for attention. There are references to "not being noticed" in a few places, which is just the most teenage reason to want to end it all that I can think of. There's a short snippet that prefaces the music video for the title track where Goss sits around playfully talking about how suicide isn't a big deal and she would love to try it again, and it comes off as so damn phony that it really taints the whole experience. As somebody who has been there and still struggles from time to time, it's not that it offends me per se, it just feels like she doesn't get it, and is instead toying with these ideas as some sort of ill-conceived marketing plan to appeal to early adolescents who bought Cradle of Filth shirts at Hot Topic en masse around this time in history. I don't normally focus on lyrics, but they're really shit here. The whole album is loaded with really shallow, basic lyrics about two ideas that don't coalesce in any way and feel like a first draft.

Musically the album sort of falls into the same pitfall of sounding like a first draft presented as a final product. There are awesome moments here and there, "I Spit on Your Grave" and the title track sound like lost Follow the Reaper tracks with a massive boost vocally (worth noting that those are the only two tracks credited solely to Goss and Laiho), "Me, Myself, My Enemy" has a great chorus, and even though "Written in Stone" is probably the most egregious offender in terms of lyrical deficiency, the total simplicity of the riffs work on that one, since an "Unforgiven" style ballad doesn't need any real theatrics. Everything else? Nah, it sounds like the rest of the band wasn't even trying. Goss kills it throughout but riffs as brain dead basic as "The Sin Trade", "Passage to the Fourth World" and "Nowhere for No One" sound like warmup exercises more than a finished product. There is so much instrumental talent in the band, it stuns me that the best they could come up with to showcase their skill is shit like this. It's baby's first heavy/power metal in a lot of instances, and the few truly phenomenal songs are so damn frustrating because obviously they can do better than that lame ass main riff on "The Sin Trade".

Despite the startling amount of filler and the awkward lyrics, I'd actually still recommend giving this a spin if you get the chance. I'm not 17 anymore so I may not identify with how shallow and basic the album is at its core anymore, but tracks like "Suicide by My Side" and "I Spit on Your Grave" are still certified bangers, and the more explosive and exciting tracks are more than worthwhile for fans of the style. Suicide by My Side is a very hit or miss album, but the hits are so strong that I still listen to this even fifteen years after first hearing it. It's concise and punchy, and while it doesn't always make its point effectively, when it is effective, it's just as strong as anything else to be found in the genre.

Before writing this review, I did some googling to see what Kimberly Goss has been up to lately since she's been more or less absent from the metal scene ever since this album way back in 2002. I found an interview she did with Noisecreep back in 2012 where she revealed that she's been happily living a quiet life as a mother, working at a music school. Here's the thing though, that particular music school just so happens to be like a twenty minute drive from where I live. This means I now have a plan for what to do in my spare time.

1) See if she still works there.
2) Throw pies at her until she agrees to reform Sinergy.


Originally written for Lair of the Bastard

Do You Wanna Die? - 89%

Starborn, May 15th, 2006

Kimberly Goss and friends return with what is to this date, the best work this band has has done. Singery is melodic speed metal with female vocals, yet Goss unlike some female singers, has lot of range. She is a very powerful singer and a joy to listen to. I remember about four or five years ago, I checked out this band and didn't care for them but I recently gave them another chance, and I'm glad I did.

The album starts off with "I spit on your grave". This song is actually catchy and fun to sing along with. The guitar melody is very fast reminds me of Bodom at times, which it should since Alexi is on guitar. This is a good song to play when your thinking about your worst enemy, well in case you have one? "The Sin Trade" is really nice to, and maybe my favorite song on the album. I fell the lyrics deal with facing your inner demons and destroying them. Kimberly sounds very aggressive here which gives a great overall feel to the song.

"Written In Stone" slows down the tempo abit but it still rocks. It's more of a ballad than anything but it's done right. I really like Liaho's solo here, one the best on the album, but I always consider Alexi's solos to be amazing. Latvala's solo is done very well too. The song is about dealing with the past which most people should be able to relate to. This would make a great intro song to someone who's never heard the band.

"Shadow Land" which to me is one of the weaker song on here, it isn't bad at all, it's quite good actually, it's just not up to par with the rest of the album. This song contains Alexi on vocals and he does a pretty good job. I can't totally explain it but I guess I just don't like the over all feel of this song, especially the chorus. But who knows maybe it will grow on me with a few more listens. The title track on the other hand is one of the best songs on the album. The lyrical content is of course about suicide and we have all at least thought about what Goss is singing about.

It's not really that depressing of a song, well at least not to me. It's got great melodies and Kimberly does another great vocal performance. The last song "Remembrance" is a piano instrumental dedicated to the victims of 9/11, it's not bad but I feel that it's kinda short. But like I said before this album is highlight of Singery's career, so I highly recommend it. If you like speed or modern power metal this great choice for your collection. Pick it up!

KILLER!!! - 100%

corviderrant, March 31st, 2004

It is so refreshing to hear a melodic power metal band who honors both sides of the coin, the melody, AND the power in power metal. Sinergy's earlier material may have not been so good, or so I hear, but this album owns from start to finish. In fact, I will go as far as to say that this is one of the best melodic metal albums I've heard in my time, and since I've been a banger since roughly 1983-84, this ought to tell you something.

I really wish people would quit bashing Kim Goss and get a life already, because she kicks ass and takes names on this album. Her strong, confident midrange belting is indeed reminiscent of a female Bruce Dickinson (as another reviewer said here very accurately), and the version of Iron Maiden's very classic "Number of the Beast" (one of the first metal albums I bought when I was 14, years ago in the Dark Ages) that closes off this album does the original ample justice. Stick to your guns and don't let anybody take your bullets, I say to Mrs. Goss-Laiho, cos she is doing just fine.

The rest of the band is by no means overshadowed by her, as they hold their own like the veterans they are. Alexi Laiho and Roope Latvala make an outstanding guitar duo, throwing out riffs and shred leads with murderous precision, and whoever the bass player was on this CD, he hangs with the guitars loud and clear with a fabulously crunchy, slightly distorted tone. And the drumming is like piledrivers, powerful and precise, although I suspect he may be triggered.

Standout songs? Oboy..."I Spit On Your Grave" and "The Sin Trade" kick the album off in fine metallic fashion, and "Violated" is nicely venomous and scathing. "Written In Stone", if this is a ballad, then this is the kinda ballad I want to hear more often--ballsy and aggressive, yet sensitive lyrically. Laiho makes a guest appearance vocally on "Shadow Island", one of the most aggressive and powerful tunes on here, and his ugly rasp goes well alongside Kim's melodic vocal. That tune also features a Therion-like vocal choir on the verses that will make your short hairs stand up. The title track starts with a mercifully short sound bite of a couple (Goss and Laiho?) arguing and screaming that is a little irritating, but conveys the anguish of the title track well, and "Remembrance" is a pretty piano piece in memory of the 9/11 victims that is eloquently simple.

Altogether...this is essential for those out there who are craving good quality metal with equal parts melody and balls. And I do mean balls, never mind gender issues. Get this and enjoy it, because mark my words, you will!

Excellent, dark power metal. - 86%

Nightcrawler, August 19th, 2003

Sinergy's third studio outing Suicide By My Side is one of my latest CD purchases, and it completely blew me away from the first listen.
This is the most aggressive power metal album ever, being powered by heavy, punishing basslines, loads of double bass drumming and of course the awesome twin guitar attack of Roope Latvala and Alexi 'Wildchild' Laiho, both also from Children of Bodom. The two players have very similar virtuose, melodic and intense styles and complement eachother perfectly. The band is fronted by the awesome, powerful vocals of Kimberly Goss, who as already mentioned unlike other female singers doesn't try to sing as high as possible, but has a much more aggressive yet melodic, and pretty midranged style. At some points she sounds like a female Bruce Dickinson- only way better.

The music on CD is nothing short of amazing. The mood is unusually for power metal very dark, depressing and hateful, most notably on songs like the punishing opener I Spit On Your Grave and the multi-talented closing track Suicide By My Side- it will make you suicidal and have you violently headbanging at the same time. That's quite an achievement.
The dark mood over all songs tie them together very well, but they all manage to have a very separate and personal sound, so that each song is something new yet fits well within the context of the album.
Violated is aggressive and powerful. Passage to the Fourth World is very melodic for the most part but has a heavy-as-fuck riff section towards the end of the solo. Shadow Island is very atmospheric and quite epic, and features vocal appearances from bassist Marco Hietala and the shrieking voice of Alexi Laiho. And of course we have the beautiful and mournful ballad Written in Stone, which totally kicks you in the face with that powerful chorus and features some amazing Maiden-ish melodies, beautiful acoustic guitars and the most emotional and one of the best vocal performances of the album.
But all in all, every single song of the entire album owns to an infinite extent. Nothing sticks out as bad, or even slightly weaker than the rest.
On the other hand, a few songs do stand out as being unusually amazing. First we have the amazing ballad Written in Stone. Passage to the Fourth World stands out as well, with awesome memorable vocal lines and amazing riffwork. And finally the menacing title track, which is my favourite track of the entire album.

Suicide By My Side is an essential of modern metal. The amazing twin guitars, the powerful and original vocals, and of course the actual songwriting, which is some of the best stuff this side of Painkiller.

A solid headbanger - 87%

ALF, May 20th, 2003

The third and latest outing from Sinergy is also its best. The two masterminds and driving force of the group are the husband and wife team of Kim Goss and Alexi Laiho. Kim Goss is the lead singer and main lyricist and a contoversial figure in the metal scene. Alexi Laiho has been the only guitarist that has been with the band throughout its existence and is one of the main songwriter in the band. Sinergy for him is a side project since he devouts most of his energy to his main band Children of Bodom. New on board for this CD is guitarist Rope Latvala who is one of the main factor that Sinergy have stepped up to the next level. He is is integral to the success of this album since he did a fair bit of the song writing and the addition of his guitar skills complements Laiho.

The album starts off with its strongest track called "I Spit On Your Grave". Sinergy quickly establish their intricate, blistering dual guitar attack of Laiho and Latvala. The ability of these two bring up comparison to famed guitar duos of the past such Judas Priest's Tipton and Downing, and Iron Maiden's Murray and Smith. They are not there yet but they are certainly not far off. The variety of styles the two-guitarist employ through out the album is amazing from the fast fat riffs that serves as an intro to "Me, Myself, My Enemy". To very technical passages such as in "The Sin Trade" and to very melodic riffs that are the basis of "Passage To Fourth World". The guitar work throughout the CD is amazing and if you are a guitar nut this is reason enough to pick up this album.

The vocals of Kim Goss are also quite different from the majority of her female metal contemporaries. Her vocals are far grittier and aggressive without being any less melodic. Kim's vocals are refreshing contrast from what is fast becoming the norm for female fronted lead singers in metal. Her peers seem to compete on who will shatter glass first while KIm pretty much stays in the lower register. Her vocals perfectly complement the type of metal Sinergy plays.

The best songs on this are the intense "I Spit On Your Grave", the speedy and aggressive "Violated". The cool vocal lines make "Passage To Fourth World" makes it a stand out and the sonic assault of "Shadow Island" where Kim and Alexi Laiho sort of duet will leave you breathless.

"Suicide By My Side" is a great straight up, unpretentious metal album that will captivate fans of terrific guitar playing. Also the best place to start if you want to check out Sinergy.

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.