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Melodic wannabe-extreme metal - 35%

CadenZ, May 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Silverwolf-Productions

Ok, I just want to get this out of the way at once: I’m getting pretty sick of these idiotic bandnames. Sycronomica? Now what the fuck is that supposed to mean? And why am I addressing something that has little or nothing to do with the music? Has “Sycroscope” stunned my musical SatanSensors™ into paralysis with its grandeur, or maybe its extreme suckage? I would so love to bash these guys into a hole or praise their infernal glorious aura in astonishment… but alas, neither is possible. The record’s bland mediocrity just makes me want to concentrate on the more essential things in life, like for example women’s beach volley on Eurosport. Mmmm… tanned lean bodi- ahem. Yes. I mean of course men’s beach volley. What was I thinking?

So, how does this sound then? Someone (can’t remember who) once described a record (can’t remember which) as wannabe-extreme, and I wasn’t quite sure if I understood what he/she meant. Now I know, ‘cause “Sycroscope” sounds like its creators wanted it to sound extreme, evil, hellish, mysterious, diabolical, demon-infested etc; and they have, sadly, not succeeded in pulling it off. There are bits and pieces of goth, black, viking, thrash, heavy and speed metal in the mix, and together they form a pie of melodic wannabe-extreme metal. How wonderful.

We have tremolo leads, horror movie keyboards, folkish fairytale melodies, palm muted speed metal riffs, mid-pitched growling, double kicks and “atmospheric” acoustic interludes with samples and Frosty (the Snowman) keyboards. So while Sycronomica is trying to be evil and mysterious like Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir (yeah I know, not much to aim at… and still they miss), they’re also going for the Bratz of Bodom-style riffage and traditional Teutonic thrash/speed/heavy metal. This is not the first German band to make this horrible mix – if it is to be done, it has to be done extremely well, otherwise… well, count ye lucky if any limbs are still attached to your body, post-bashing. On Arena MA. Center court.

The song-writing is generic and bland, the arrangements are amateurish and uninteresting, and there are almost no highlights to be found at all. Technically speaking there’s nothing wrong here, all instruments are handled with precision and the growling vocalist has an OK rasp. The clean vocalist has a nice classical voice, but on some tracks (“Kaleidoscope”) he sings a bit out of tune which is extremely annoying. He sounds best when singing in his native tongue, like in the track “Nebelgestalt” – a song which sounds like a mix between a couple of songs off of Dimmu’s finest moment “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. The intro is ridiculously reminiscent of “Mourning Palace” and several other riffs sound like they too were borrowed from the Norsemen’s 1997 release. I hope the song is meant to be taken as an homage to the Bavarians’ idols.

The fatal blow to this album is delivered by the total lack of atmosphere whatsoever; in dark/black/extreme/penis metal that’s what counts above anything else. There are some good riffs, especially on the last three-four songs of the album; but they’re combined with other riffs not so great, while the arrangements and production make everything sound thin, lifeless, inorganic, boring and unfinished. At times “Sycroscope” sounds more like a demo than an album, and it’s supposed to be a third (!) full-length effort. Nope, these guys don’t get my juice flowing.

Symphonic black, striving for a summit - 60%

autothrall, January 12th, 2010

Symphonic black metal in the vein of Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth has not seen much of an upswing, while many other genres have thrived in recent years. Still, some bands hang on defiantly to the hopes that this genre can produce another conquest, and German Sycronomica are one of them. I never caught on to their previous albums Paths or Gate, and despite a strong effort here, I did not derive much enjoyment from Sycroscope.

That doesn't make it a bad album, however. Oliver Walther (also of Festering Saliva) has a powerful, rasping throat which covers the music like a horde of black-winged angels about to descend to the mortal realms for war. The riffs are loaded with folk-like bounce and swagger, and the band shifts up tempo often enough that the songs never feel dull or flat. The synths are what often drag me down here. At times, they swell with bombast and convey epic emotion and atmosphere to the metal riffing. At others, they sound cheesy, and not in a good way. I can bear them in the King Diamond-like intro to "An Der Schwelle", where they craft the proper horrific embrace. This is also one of the better tracks on the album, which recalls symphonic Emperor and Dimmu Borgir. Other strong points include the glorious "Ground on Fire" and the driving, melodious "Embers".

There is enough of a folkish playfulness to the writing that fans of pompous pagan metal (with keyboards) might find something they like in the album. Most of the components of the band work well, but I think some more balance in the keyboards would go a long way, and the guitars could use some more catchy writing, for half the album they just chug along with mediocre riffs below the atmosphere of the vocals and keyboards. A few solid tracks dominate the album, but not catchy enough that I'd want to revisit them often. Good cover art, by the way, it does capture the spirit of the music.

Highlights: An Der Schwelle, Ground on Fire, Embers