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Syringe - Former Life Departure - 77%

MDL, June 20th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2012, Digital, Independent

Essentially, Syringe's music could be labeled as "blackened melodic death metal", being it a pretty much regular melodeath band with the prominence of a highly black metal influenced riffing style, for its characteristic tuning and tremolo picking, that reminds me of some other bands that share a similar style, such as Hymn for the Tortured and Belzebubs. The melodeath parts, which constitute the record's bulk, are catchy and, sometimes, they do resemble a thrashier edge, in the less accelerated and aggressive sections. The guitars assume the typical melodeath style of riffing, which is omnipresent on this record, with fast, but accessible passages, being often accompanied by chugging riffs and breakdowns, which might make one confound it with some deathcore bands with a more melodic edge, like As Blood Runs Black or Glory for all Eternity. Additionally, there are some rapid and frenetic solos and meaty, often groovy guitar interludes, upheld by the solid bass playing and the drums' fastness. Sometimes, the conjoining of all these elements ends up conceiving a spooky and menacing atmosphere to the music, as we can witness on tracks such as Hellrazer and Strength.

Some symphonic sonorous effects are occasionally used, primarily for ambience. However, these effects tend to damage the quality of the band's music, as they're either too loud or just feel out of place - personally speaking, they could've even been suppressed from the music, without it being substantially harmed. The keyboards could have been better handled, in order to conceive a characteristic and fitting atmosphere to the music, but this definitely wasn't the case here, at least, in most parts of the songs in which they're present. The vocalist, Derek Corzine, is very versatile. He's able to project some solid, low-pitched grunts, as well as the typical black metal screaming vocals and limpid, accessible clean vocals, that are perfectly conjugated with the record's most melodic sections. This vocal alternation is executed readily and without any apparent hardships.

The album's cover is a delightful, exquisite piece of art, that conjugates many luminous and fumy visual effects, that appear to evoke the mystical and Christological nature of the band's lyrical themes. These elements are congregated with the eerie ambience that is universally associated with the Gothic cathedral, the graveyard and the nocturnal sky, featuring a bright red moon. That radiant light in the upper right corner seems to symbolize some type of divine manifestation, that disperses the shadows on its surroundings, while illuminating the graveyard's sepulchral ambient, being it seemingly ready to apprehend the emerging soul that is about to rise from the burial place, towards God - which might've been the inspiration for the album's title, Former Life Departure (or vice-versa). This interpretation could be wrong, but, personally, it seems like the most plausible one, taking the band's ideological context and the cover art's imagery into consideration.

Conclusively, Former Life Departure is a good melodic death metal album, with some modest black metal hints. It's not a mind blowing or extremely innovative record, but it features many great tunes that would certainly be appreciated by whomever likes this style of music. As highlights, I'd appoint Strength, Hellrazer, No Compromise and Reborn.