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Accomplished and Compelling Industrial Metal - 87%

AtrophySyntrophy, April 1st, 2009

For me, Sybreed has proven the outcome of a long and almost fruitless search for a definitive industrial metal band merging mechanical heavy metal (and I stress heavy) and industrial electronic elements. Previously the defining band in this category in my book was Fear Factory, but I sought to find the refinement of this style, and Sybreed (short for ‘Synthetic Breed’) demonstrate its logical conclusion. Having been frustrated by the woefully cheesy melodies and lack of subtlety and when exploring extreme metal with a melodic edge, Sybreed has been a satisfying breath of fresh air.

Antares continues the evolution of the band’s own particular sound established in their debut, Slave Design, developing a unique synergy of groove metal and industrial synths, with flourishes of melodic death metal and glorious new wave keyboards. It might sound like a disparate mix, and it is, but it works well. Guitarist Drop (you know industrial bands and their pseudonyms) is in this regard arguably the most important person in the band, programming the electronics aswell as performing the guitars.
Industrial metal itself is by no means a new phenomenon, and I make no claims that this band are pioneers in the genre, but the way they combine these elements defines a new and interesting approach. Personally, I’ve found a lot of ‘industrial metal’ bands to be electronic groups with abrasive keyboards and samples overpowering simple, grating guitars (as anyone familiar with my previous Ministry review will know). However, in this instance, the band places very heavy guitars with an emphasis on groove and syncopation, along both industrial, dynamic keyboards, and soaring melodic synths. The band cites a pretty eclectic range of influences – from Depeche Mode to Meshuggah – and it does wonders for the album.

Rather than the usual gritty, harsh keyboards found on most releases in the genre, Sybreed makes use of epic melodies and cosmic harmonies alongside the satisfyingly proficient guitars, prompting (against my better judgement) the description ‘space metal’. One of the influences absent in most metal that makes this record stand out is the solid new wave melodies in the keyboards; despite being at odds with the energetic, torrential guitars, the keyboards really complete the overall sound. The vocals also suit the band’s own approach, with vocalist Ben utilising both harsh and melodic vocals throughout. Rather than a conventional growl, his screams lie somewhere between an aggressive bellow and more legible shouting, while his clean vocals are melodic enough for epic choruses and subdued passages in equal measure. His range proves adequate to convey the length and breadth of the lyrical themes; “social misery, everyday alienation and the decay of modern way of life.”

Overall, this album showcases a particular style in evolution; whilst maturing and refining itself still has room to grow and will hopefully continue to develop over the course of subsequent albums; including the third full-length scheduled for release at the end of this year sometime.