Released: 2007, Nuclear Blast Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Joining labelmates Mnemic, Threat Signal and former Nuclear Blast Records posterboys, Raunchy, Sonic Syndicate bring their blend of extremely melodic, keyboard-infested modern metal to the table on its debut, ONLY INHUMAN. Winners of a European talent contest sponsored by Nuclear Blast, Sonic Syndicate is a marketing department’s dream. Looking at the promo shots, the band has its hair and clothes styled right, sufficient piercings and a smokin’ hot female bassplayer for the young male populace to drool over. Add in ONLY INHUMAN’s ultra-slick production and so-catchy-it-hurts music influenced by In Flames, Children of Bodom, Soilwork and Bleeding Through and Sonic Syndicate is poised for world domination, right? Well, let’s not get hasty.
It is obvious that a great deal of time went in to crafting hook-filled, immediately-catchy songs on ONLY INHUMAN. Every one of the eleven songs on the album could be a single without question. The riffs of brothers Roger and Robin Sjunnesson are sharp and evoke memories of late period Soilwork and SOUNDTRACK TO YOUR ESCAPE-era In Flames on “Blue Eyed Fiend.” Two vocalists—Roland Johansson and third brother Roland Sjunnesson—growl and croon their way through infectious blasters “Aftermath,” “Double Agent” and “Callous,” each possessing a chorus that sticks in your head for days. Uncredited (on the promo anyway) keyboards throughout the album provide atmospheric flourishes with the ballad-like “Enclave” and faring the best and injecting more than a passing resemblance to Children of Bodom on “Aftermath.” The band gets its most aggressive on the industrial-tinged triggered drum blasts of the title track and the harsh vocals of “Callous” which remind me of Mnemic’s futuristic vocal trade-offs.
While ONLY INHUMAN is a thoroughly enjoyable album from beginning to end, what hampers the album is the formulaic songwriting and unapologetically contrived image. Completely unchallenging and with all the depth of a mud puddle, this is mindless “guilty pleasure” metal if I have ever heard it. The riffs are simple, have been heard numerous times before and the vocals are ripped right out of the playbook of the umpteen metalcore/screamo bands currently plaguing the scene. From a business sense, Nuclear Blast should strike gold here but as accessible as Sonic Syndicate is, there will be just as many insults and criticisms hurled their way for signing the band.
ONLY INHUMAN is a quick ride through modern metal that is sure to find a wide audience at Ozzfest and on the music video channels. Does the North American market need ANOTHER metalcore/melodic death act fighting for attention in an already crowded scene? Probably not but there is something about Sonic Syndicate that should push them over and above the rest of the nameless, faceless bands that will surely fizzle out after one or two albums. The seed is planted; Nuclear Blast just needs to feed and water ONLY INHUMAN to the right market and demographic and Sonic Syndicate could have a big breakout hit with ONLY INHUMAN.
KILLER KUTS: “Aftermath,” “Blue Eyed Fiend,” “Double Agent 616,” “Callous,” “Unknown Entity”