Reviewed: August 2019
Released: 2019 – Eclipse Records
Those coming to SiXforNinE via the news that they are fronted by the former sticksman of Greek gothic metal band Septicflesh should adjust their expectations accordingly. For this release, Fotis Benardo has stepped out from behind the drum kit and taken centre stage in something rooted in a much more melodic and marketable place than his previous band.
Don’t assume this is a bad thing; it’s actually difficult not to find Parallel Universe an appealing listen.
Joined by George Kapa on guitars, with Pete Outfox on drums and the heroically named Herc Booze taking up the low end, Fotis (who also produced) and his bandmates have delivered a skillful and confident set of songs that showcase a wide set of influences.
Describing themselves as alternative rock, this doesn’t quite capture the anthemic quality of their songs or the underlying idiosyncrasies of their delivery.
While it would be true to say they have the same rousing appeal of bands like the Foo Fighters or Linkin Park, there’s a lot more on offer here than big choruses. A more contemporary reference would be fellow Greek rockers Breath After Coma or Poem. To my ears they also have a jarring, post-hardcore lilt that reminds me of nineties Discord acts like Bluetip and Jawbox. If I was to reference an even deeper cut, on Never Ending Road my thoughts turn to the angular riffing of L.A. bruisers Stanford Prison Experiment.
Across all of this, the dexterous guitar work of George Kapa sets them apart from these comparisons and ensures the band will appeal to anyone who is tuned in to the recent resurgence in everything progressive and technical. Tastefully driving on a riff for songs like Bullet Off Its Course, but often adding some impressive flourishes that demonstrate a creative approach. Kapa uses texture to great effect, but can also go full guitar freakout when it’s called for. Sea Of Lies features some particularly vibrant soloing whereas title track Counting Stars (A Parallel Universe) simmers on an atmospheric Tool-esque pulse.
There’s lots to enjoy here. While the production may be a bit smooth for some, it’s consistent with this style of melodic, progressive metal and does much to highlight SiXforNinE’s many strengths.