Synapses - Devoutness
Cimmerian Shade Recordings
Industrial/Tech Death Metal

Release year: 0
Reviewed by Andy

Italian tech-death outfit Synapses's latest LP is an exercise in machinelike precision. Devoutness is an album with some of the same harsh impersonality as an industrial metal album, and though most parts have plenty of ferocious energy, the chaotic drumming and riffs start and stop as if a computer was doing them. The mechanized, programmed sound of the music, however, sometimes results in a compromise in which melody and inventiveness suffer.

While the vocals are fairly standard death metal fare, the riffs are stuttering and often somewhat complicated. Guitarist Ciulaz and his partner on bass, Sez, sound like a single instrument in their eerie ability to follow each other's rhythm, jumping back to the start of a musical idea every few seconds as if a computer is replaying the track. The drumming seems to live in a land of its own; it barely seems to follow the guitar at all in its fills as the guitar stops and starts, yet somehow it lands perfectly to match with the melody when it is needed. Force-fed with Gore, for example, has minimal drums matching the guitar and double bass, just a hi-hat hiss every once in a while, but abruptly flips to precise snare ferocity partway through the riffing as if it had always been following along at that speed. If it's not triggered (which is impossible for me to tell), Cannibale is one hell of a drummer. Soloing is rare, and when it occurs it tends to be slower and a bit more more luxurious than expected; the rhythm guitar work, on the other hand, is what gives the album its computer-like sound. A Place Will Be Forgotten is filled with riffs repeating with chilly accuracy, seemingly at random, as if being programmed by a malfunctioning chip. Hybrid Soul, on the other hand, opens with sorrowful wailing of the guitar, giving us a brief break from the relentlessness in favor of a more melodic approach; even when the static-filled, industrial sound of the rhythm track comes to life, it supports the melody on this one rather than drowning it out.

Sometimes, in the middle of all this, the guitar halts for a second to shut down the volume and then slowly turn it up all the way. There are other minor effects used that are similar, apparently to reinforce the sense of robotic electronica, and in many ways that's the album's weak point. All those industrial motifs do very little to disguise the fact that there sometimes very few interesting things happening in the guitar riffs -- such as in Day of the Pest, which consists of a lot of the same chord patterns, just played with different rhythms. It doesn't feel like the band doesn't have the chops to produce something stronger, it's more like their interest in a mechanized sound sometimes overrides their desire to produce more interesting or creative-sounding music. The End starts with the same song as the intro, but follows with more riffing and a hissing, drawn-out scream over the background of the whole thing, ending with a cold, slowly-descending electronic tone.

Devoutness's industrial flavor is somewhat interesting at first, but after twelve tracks of that sort of thing without much variation, its virtues tend to get crowded out by the monotony of some of the tracks. It's certainly an OK album for industrial metal fans, though I suspect a lot of tech death afficionados will consider it watered down substantially, especially compared to some of the giants in the field (anything by Nile or The Faceless makes this look rather impoverished). Listeners with a real interest in repetitive, industrial-style death will probably get more out of this, but for others, this might be one of those you want to give a listen to before considering purchasing.

Killing Songs :
Force-fed with Gore, Hybrid Soul
Andy quoted 69 / 100
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